2010…in a wrap.
But, I am getting ahead of myself!
I know, I know. I’ve been pretty “MIA” the past few months on this blog (Missing-in-Action).
But, thanks to my friend, Dave Somerville, we’ve worked together the past 6 weeks to do a mini, but much needed, make-over on this blog. After all, this blog is a sort of dear friend that has held the memories, stories, and photos of my many adventures this year…and even friends need some ‘freshening up’ every once in a while!
It is truly amazing to think that exactly 5 months ago today, I was spending my last night at my small, quaint apartment on the Rift Valley Academy (RVA) campus in Kijabe, Kenya. As most of you know, I had finished my year-long commitment to serve as a Volunteer Staff Member at RVA starting back in August of 2009, and was heading back to the U.S. to many unknowns.
And, here I am, back in Gaithersburg, MD – my childhood hometown of 25 years – about to spend Christmas with my parents and two brothers, having also just spent Thanksgiving with all of them AND my sister, Nora, brother-in-law, Travis, and niece and nephew – Kate and Grant – who flew in for 2 weeks to hang with us. What a blessing!
You may be wondering what I’ve been doing since I returned. I often ask myself the same question 🙂 It seems as if I am busier here than I was in Africa! It has truly been a whirlwind year, let alone a whirlwind fall. And, in the flurry and scurry of changes, re-adjustments, re-entry, job transitions, relational changes, and much more, God has been so faithful to provide abundantly more grace and faith than all I could ask for or imagine.
But, in order to truly capture the whole story…I really should zoom out a bit…
:: I was climbing Mount Kenya, the most grueling task I have ever willingly signed up to do ::
:: I was celebrating our dorm’s victory over H1N1, which swept through the RVA campus ::
(all the girls got sick except one or two, and me)
:: I was being maternal with my 17 surrogate daughters ::
(and domestic, with these delightful Martha Stewart Valentines Day cookies)
:: I excitedly welcomed my brother Peter and best friend Britt for their 10 day visit to Kenya ::
Visiting Lake Naivaisha, where parts of “Out of Africa” were filmed…
The Masai Mara Game Reserve for our 3 day Safari
:: I was engaging in various community projects and outreach efforts in Kenya ::
(Sewing Project in the Rift Valley)
(Nairobi 5K Fun Run for Heart Patients)
(Fundraising and Kitchen Project for my dear Kenyan friend, Emily)
:: Visited my California friend, Carly, in Uganda for a long weekend ::
(We also managed to survive rafting Class 5 white water rapids on the Nile)
:: I said joyful and tearful goodbyes ::
(To Emily Maingi and her daughters Rose and Mary)
(To my 17 daughters)
(To many single and married women who played a pivotal role in my life at RVA)
(To my little 1st-3rd grade music students)
(And to the many Kenyan souls who had becomes my heroes)
Then, before going back to the U.S., I diverted to Egypt for one last ‘hurr-ahh’…
(At the top of Mount Sinai in St. Katherine’s City)
(Snorkeling in Dahab, one of the top dive spots in the world)
(Taking a Faluka Boat Ride on the Nile in Luxor)
And, then I suddenly found myself at the DCA airport in Washington, D.C.
The reunion was quite simply, sweet.
I spent most of August sleeping, relaxing, taking Pilates classes at my Mom’s studio in Bethesda, doing coffee-dates with friends, talking on the phone with Nora (who called me multiple times each day, often on the hour…), and unpacking.
(Spending 3 weeks in Arizona with Nora, where I met for the first time my nephew, Grant, helped potty-train 2 1/2 year old Kate, and drinking coffee and talking with Nora).
Just as I got back to Maryland at the end of September, not necessarily expecting to find a job right away, a neat opportunity arose within days of my search and networking efforts.
Through a friend of a friend who was going on maternity leave, a position at a public policy organization in D.C. in the Development and Fundraising department opened up. After submitting my resume on a Sunday, talking to HR on Tuesday, and interviewing on Wednesday, I was made an offer on Thursday! Praise God! I am currently working there full-time, learning a lot, and enjoying the opportunity to develop my skills in this field of interest that developed after all the fundraising I did prior to going to Kenya.
But, just when I thought I was done traveling for a while, I decided to have a bit more fun before I started my job on October 20 🙂
(First, my brothers and Dad and I completed our first Sprint Triathlon in Ocean City, MD)
1/2 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run
(Second, I toured Italy with two of my best childhood girlfriends from Oct 5-16, after they begged and pleaded for me to come with them…which, I am so glad I did!)
And, then it was the holiday season! Nora and Travis and the kids came from Arizona to brave the cold and hang out for 2 weeks, spend birthdays together (Nora turned 30, I turned 25), do a few fun things together, and mostly just laugh at and with the kids.
(Celebrating Thanksgiving with my entire family)
(National Cathedral to see Handel’s Messiah)
Being home for Christmas this year is comforting and bittersweet at the same time. I missed my family last year, and I miss Africa this year.
And, despite a few specific trials that our family has been experiencing this year, and the consistent faith it takes to truly believe in God’s goodness and power to continually meet us and deliver us from the sorrow and pain of these trials, I have been so comforted by John 1:
The Word Became Flesh
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,  and the life was the light of men. 5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,  and his own people  did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!