Friday, April 17, 2015

Year 3...The Beginning...

It continually blows my mind how fast time goes by here. It literally disappears, but looking back, it always feels like so much has happened.

Although it was hard to leave my family after Christmas, the transition back was the easiest so far. I think it was because I was expecting it to be hard whereas in the past it always caught me by surprise. I know that sounds strange, that it was easier but also really hard, but I knew I was coming back to a sort of chaos so I was mentally prepared for it.

We had recently lost Sam and everyone was still reeling from that unexpected tragedy. On top of that, a dear friend (and member of the Ekisa team) was going through some incredible hardship having to give up a child that she had been raising for the last 2 years and had known for nearly 4 years before that. The story is long and complicated (as are most of the cases we deal with) but she is doing pretty well now.

Basically, I landed and was instantly surrounded with people at their wits end who regularly expressed a desire to be done with Uganda and I was left praying and hoping that my friends wouldn’t all leave me to deal with this place on my own. Scary thought given my Jinja family is the only reason (besides the grace of God) that I don’t lose my mind sometimes.

In all honesty, there are a couple members of the team that have been dangerously close to throwing in the towel recently and we are taking intentional steps to move towards recovery and making sure that those that aren’t struggling to quite the same degree avoid getting there. “Burnout” has been a hot topic at Ekisa. We are working at creating policies that will outline clear boundaries and responsibilities and allow each of us to take off time here and there without feeling guilty about it. Guilt is the key word here. In our recent conversations about this, it has become abundantly clear that we extend grace to each other by way of encouraging breaks and time off and don’t extend that same grace to ourselves. This is what needs to change…the freedom to take care of ourselves without feeling guilty about it. It’s all a learning process and part of growing as self-aware individuals and as an organization.    

On a positive note, it was so great to come back to the new apartment and have everyone settled in; though it was a huge amount of work getting everything finished (I’ll share pictures soon, I promise). There are currently 4 of us occupying 3 out of the 4 units and we are working on filling the 4th with another expat community member. We’ve been doing some work on the compound recently and now have a carport and a functional fire pit; although rainy season is in full swing so we may not get a huge amount of use out of it right away. We’ve also started a vegetable garden and in a couple months, should have an abundance of tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, beets, sweet peppers, okra, sunflowers, squash, celery, chives, beans and snap peas. It’s all very exciting because I dreamt about this for so long and it’s all finally coming together.

Another big change has been the addition of a furry little friend named Carter. I would be lying if I didn’t say I kinda love him, as much as some of his puppy traits drive me crazy. We had a rough start, him and me. Without going into too much boring detail, he was the catalyst for a good 4-6 days of fairly severe anxiety…the illogical, uncontrollable, infuriating kind. It was especially frustrating because I kept asking myself how I can be calm in extremely stressful and tragic situations but a stupid little puppy is what caused an unraveling; but I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.

It’s been a month since I got him and everything is going really well besides a bit of residual anxiety that likes to hang out just below the surface. It’s actually a bit of a scary and dangerous place to be given any given day holds a number of possible stress inducing, potentially unraveling moments, so I need to be very intentional about how I deal with it all.

On another positive note, I had the chance to lead worship with a friend of mine last Sunday; just the two of us. I had led a couple times before with the Ugandan worship team (consisting of 5-7 additional vocalists) but this was simple and acoustic and it felt as though the congregation appreciated the change of pace. I feel it’s likely we’ll get the chance to do it again sometime in the future.

Well, that pretty much sums up the last couple months. I have put a reminder in my calendar to write another update in a month. I’m turning a new leaf!     

1 comment:

Sherri Piechnik said...

I'm reading from your current blog back and loving it. May God give you strength for whatever He calls you to. And may you hang on to Him for the ride!