Thursday, March 28, 2013


I finally did it. I had been stumbling over a packed suitcase for a week. I finally unpacked it, putting away clean clothes from a trip never taken.

Many months ago, we planned a trip to the WHM Sending Center in Pennsylvania for meetings, reconnecting, and conversations about our second term as missionaries. A detailed schedule was filled in for who was picking up the children, what after school programs they would attend, and all the other stuff moms do when leaving their children in the care of others for five days.

Travis had been experiencing pain and other unfriendly symptoms since his strange and extreme African fever illness. As the symptoms had only increased with medication, it was time for a colonoscopy. We joked that the GI specialist would probably see thousands of little African parasites doing the Conga Line or maybe Travis would win an award for the longest tapeworm brought to America.

But after we met with the radiologist and heard back from the pathologist, all jokes ended and our plans for that trip to PA ended. Cancer has a way of doing that.

Unraveling. Unpacking. Unnerving. Unplanning. Undoing.

So, I find myself undoing lots of things. And find myself doing things I would not have expected.

Undoing the packaging for eyecream as the crying-eyes-puffiness will not go away

Canceling flights, car rental, accommodation and registration for the halfmarathon we so doggedly wanted to prove that we still could.

Begging for a refund on a nonrefundable purchase of a vacation for just the two of us that we had dreamed about for 3 years now.

Being hugged by people I don’t know but know us, sometimes comforted, sometimes made uncomfortable

Fumbling to answer the question of “how are you?” as an acquaintance in passing asks

Confused by the severity of the treatment options when the tumor looks so small to me

Listening to the prayers of our sweet children who pray for Daddy to be better

Receiving clothes hangers from our friends who are, ironically, moving to Africa so we can take our clothes out of boxes and settle in a little more.

Chasing after our AfricanSoul Daughter who ran away in tears when she learned we will be delayed in returning to Bundibugyo

Amazed by the offer of a meal by a new friend who must listen well to the prompting of the Holy Spirit on the very day we met with doctors for the diagnosis

Humbled that a family member would come over and clean our condo while we were meeting with surgeons

Talking with current teammates and future teammates who are also adjusting their expectations

Eating healthy food and wondering if it is healthy enough

Trying not to be overwhelmed by the “what ifs” that can be loud in the day and whisper in the dark of the night.

Finally putting our mattress that has been on the floor up on a bedframe as it will be easier for future recovery

Sweetly surprised by a package of “home decor” that a friend thoughtfully mailed to give us one thing in our condo that is not borrowed or donated

Amazed for a good night’s sleep and grateful that someone prayed that we would supernaturally be able to rest.

Sobered by the lady’s bald head as we get on the elevator to our first appointment with the cancer surgeon.

Encouraged by the many emails that we have received from friends near and far, reminded that we are certainly surrounded by a loving circle

Startled by the intensity of song lyrics and sermons and readings, how they seem to apply to us so dearly, so pointedly reminding us that God is still good and He does love us deeply

Touched by the kindness of a new friend who wants to pay for karate class for Patton

Confused in the timing of it all as we simultaneously prepare for cancer surgery and my youngest sister’s wedding

Hugged by my other sister who came with her kids for a weekend, just to be close to me, just so I could cry over a cup of coffee and not have to explain the tears

Unwrapping a box of chocolates mailed to us by a longtime supporter of all things Bundi

Finding comfort in the words of the Psalms and gaining perspective on true suffering from the book “The Insanity of God”

Waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back test results that will determine the type of surgery and asking God to use even the process of waiting to teach us and remind me that control is just an illusion

Praying with others for healing and courage and for wisdom, both for today and in the days to come

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

back in charleston

Lilli bargains in a simulation at Charlestowne Landing which was to recreate the trade between the colonialists, the Native Americans, and the Barbadians. Though the experience was to teach the children how commodities were traded and attained in the past, I was amazed by how many of the principles still hold true where we live in Eastern Africa.  As the East African Highway is being built right in front of our WHM houses, we will see an increase of valuable resources being taken out of the DRC to be sold to countries, such as China (who is assisting in making the road). Unfortunately, the average Ugandan and Congolese will not see much profit from this export and their life in poverty will remain the same. I wish that we would learn from history. It seems that the old proverb that "History only repeats itself" still holds true.

Lilli and fellow third grader Sully were chosen to go into the stocks!

Miss Molly, future RMS teacher, visited us for the weekend. The kids already love her!

A sweet visit from Aunt KarKar and her kids.
Serious skateboarders.

nc friends and gcc good times

When we were in the States in August of 2011, as we crossed the NC state line, Patton burst into tears. When we asked him why he was crying, between sobs, he said, "where is the snow?!" As the last thing he remembered of life in NC was the Christmas snow of 2010, in his mind North Carolina was a magical snowglobe. Knowing that this would likely be the only opportunity for our kids to see snow, we prayed that it would snow the one weekend we were in NC. We arrived late Friday night. We woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning snow! A sweet gift from a Father who delights to see children smile!
A cookout at our dear friends, the Morrises.

Sharing about life in Uganda

Reuniting with girlfriends whom were toddlers together

Sally Berg Ward (first RMS teacher in Bundi) and two of her beautiful girls
What joy and surprise to see Travis's residency colleague Frank and his family who drove from Bryson City to see us!

It was a delight to teach the 3rd/4th grade classes who have "adopted us" and send us cards and pray for us. They even brought in a breakfast and made a welcome banner!
Our longtime friends, the Pearces, hosted a gathering at their beautiful home. The folks who came were friends we have know from various times and types of ministry at Grace Community Church. It was so fun to reconnect and to pray together.

After church at GCC, we were hosted by the Allisons and the Fullers to talk more about missions. As these women both lead the GCC Missions committee, we joked that they are successful in their jobs to increase committee members as both of them are currently pregnant!
Having fun with these dear women!

ecbc charleston weekend

We began the ECBC Global Impact Conference by teaching Mrs Z's class of kindergarteners about missionary life in Uganda and how to make an Ugandan football.
African ingenuity means that paper and plastic bags and twine can make a ball to play the national sport.

This class was so inquisitive! One of my favorite questions was, "Do you like carrots?"
Standing in front of our "table" as we greeted friends between teaching sessions.

Travis and I were so grateful for the opportunity to publicly thank ECBC for their love, support, and prayers for our family and brothers and sisters in Uganda.
These three beautiful women are my new heroes! Sarah, Sharon, and Emily are the Stateside Coordinators for Books for Bundi. They will take all questions about sending books at and are coordinating an effort to stock the shelves in the children's library! They are the answer to my many prayers for someone to support Books for Bundi from the States. Amen and Amen!

babies, birthdays, and biographies

This cutie is another blessing on stateside assignment as we are able to meet our adorable nephew Oliver

A super sweet reunion with our longtime friends the McEvoys who hosted us for dinner on my 29th (again) birthday!
So happy to be with friends and family!

Another perk of stateside life is Grammie's Goodies!

Our first snow in many years...which after living in Boston, we were fine to be snow-less for a while!

Third grade biography presentations

Our Pocahontas with Mrs O

mitchell road pres weekend

Meeting up with the Temples who hosted and loved on Travis during college days

The many meals with members and visitors marked the weekend.

Meeting other WHMers, such as the RJ and Carolyn March, was a highlight!

A pizza dinner for our Greenville friends was such an important time for us as we love and miss these friends greatly.

Showing "the video" to our friends

College buddies

And friends who have visited us in Bundi

The Forrests, fun friends from Furman

And Howells, dear friends from NC days

We joined in the children's program for the evening.

Amy taught the evening children's program. You can tell who liked to answer the questions!
And after the Sunday morning service, we were greeted by teammate Ann Kieser's parents who had driven a long way to hear us speak!

sweet gatherings

One of the most precious aspects of this time in America is to meet our handsome nephew, Elliot Courage. And he is as sweet as he looks...
Gathering with the extended Resh family: a legacy of faith
Celebrating the life of Great Grandma "Gigi". Our Patton was named for this gentle and loving woman.

Lunch with Crosspoint Church before we spoke about what God is doing in Uganda.

Such a sweet group of faithful supporters who eat, pray, and love us well!
Dr Victor Birch Rambo, Jr. was our guest of honor at the lunch. He is the son of opthomologic missionaries in India and was a medical missionary in the DRC for nearly 30 years. Our Aidan Birch is named in his honor.
Reuniting with sweet girls that Lilli played with as a baby.

And our reuniting with our dear friends, the vonRosenbergs! Travis and Jon
Mary and me