Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sir Isaac Newton, Benedict Arnold, and other world changers

Any of you who actually reads our e-newsletters or blogs of late will know that we are focusing on what Sabbath means for us, attempting to move through life in a rhythm that allows for optimum ministry, family and personal health.

I said, “actually reads” because I’m as guilty as the next human of thinking I’m too busy to do more than simply skim in-box matter, cull websites for just the tidbit needed, and look at the pictures in a blog before deciding if I really need to read all the words of the post. It was a sobering day when I realized that if I’m not reading my fellow missionary’s entire newsletter/blog, why do I believe they read ALL of my carefully crafted words? Even the exhortation by Christ Himself, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” hasn’t changed my ways.

And so, I truly don’t expect you to continue reading past this point, but I hope you do . . .

Busy is a disease. No one is immune. Juxtaposed to entropy that takes over without well-directed energy, busyness will jam us cock-eyed into its chaotic mold unless we intentionally direct our activity.

I just finished reading another book on the theme of Sabbath and out-of-control busyness. Appropriately titled, Addicted to Busy, by Brady Boyd, it challenged me to pragmatically review my habits and default tendencies, and identify how to change patterns that lead to unhealthy physical, emotional and spiritual results.

Essentially, I have come to realize that I don’t know how to rest by taking a day off mostly because the term, “Day Off” has always troubled me—I don’t know what it means.

As a Mom, I truly can’t take a day off. As a wife, I am always looking for ways to love, respect and serve Geoff. As a Christian desiring to follow and honor God I also have my eyes perpetually open to where I can serve and act in honor of Him. In those three respects I can’t take a day off. They are who I am.

A “day off” actually disturbs me. However, I am coming to realize that we must alter our daily and weekly rhythms to incorporate Sabbath for the express purpose of resting in God, rather than endlessly trumpeting our own agenda.

An ironic side note here as I say I am seeking rhythm: Rhythm was always a spelling test stumper for me until I had a teacher that taught me the nemonic Run Hard You Thick Headed Monster. Interesting that our crazy, out-of-control rhythms lead us to become Thick-Headed Monsters (‘It’s just who I am, so don’t expect me to change”) who are bent on running hard and fast.

One of my very favorite people I worked alongside for many years was fond of responding to admonishment to slow down with, “I can sleep when I die.” I learned a lot of good things from my co-worker, but that wasn’t one of the wisdom nuggets. Unfortunately, I also adopted that stance and elevated its position in my mind to more than just a default, it became a drive.

Currently, as a ministry, New Hope Uganda, approaching the age of 30, is actively seeking health and we recently engaged in a “Change Management” Seminar. Whether change is incorporated on an individual or corporate level, the process can run close to daunting. But, daunting is NOT synonymous to impossible.

In the midst of all this talk of change, rest, sabbath and rhythm I also realize I have spent the greater part of 50 years developing a well-fed guilt complex regarding, “not doing enough,” and even more so living under the fear of being perceived by others as not doing enough.

Producing is everything. At age two if I wanted to move I had to coordinate movements to get from point A to point B. When I succeeded there was great applause. As I moved through my early childhood, the teen years, university and my first jobs, success was marked by how many “A’s” I received: “Applause,” “Approval,” “Acceptance.” I liked and worked for all of them. More than 50 years later, I’m still looking for “A’s”.

So, most likely one of my main problems with sabbath, rest & rhythm is that I honestly believe if I rest, if I take time out for sabbath, if I change my well-oiled rhythms, I’ll be less productive and therefore in jeopardy of receiving something less than an “A”.

What a LIE.

“The sabbath was made for man,” said Jesus in Mark 2:27. In other words, if I don’t sabbath I will die sooner and with less quality of life.

Sabbath is an asset, not a liability.

I am made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and He himself demonstrated the need for rest, “For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his,” Hebrews 4:10, and Genesis 2:2-3, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Despite these truths, I felt that familiar 50-year-old pang of guilt and fear last week when I read the following in my kids’ science curriculum. “Sir Isaac Newton was once on recess for a year and a half while waiting for a bout of the bubonic plague to be eliminated from his school. During this time he wrote the founding observations for the mathematics of integral calculus. What do you do in your time off?” (emphasis mine)

“Well, for crying out loud,” I thought, “I certainly haven’t changed the world with my brilliant postulations or newfound discoveries in mathematics, science or any other subject. Way to bring a downer, dude. Thanks a lot!”

I assume the author didn’t intend to bring guilt, but to inspire. However, the subtle undercurrent of negative pressure rises.

No doubt, living in a rhythm of sabbath is going to require change. I can’t continue in the default of pressure and performance for “A’s”.

Change. A basic truth. We undergo change all of our lives. Growth requires change. It is fundamental to life. If I don’t change, I die.

Change — This morning I came across another gem in my kids’ school books. American history. Benedict Arnold. What a guy—unforgettable. I didn’t get any farther than the first page where I read about the predictions made by others when he was young regarding Arnold’s future. Some said he would be a great success, others disagreed and said he’d turn out badly. He lived both predictions. In 1777, Washington called him, “The bravest of the brave.” And he was. But only three years later he was described as “the veriest villain villain of centuries past.”

And here’s the clincher that stopped me, “The trouble was not that Benedict Arnold changed, but that since his teenage years he changed so little.”


Lord, help me to change my defaults, habits, and patterns which block my ability to rest in you. Keep me from the desire to push my own agenda in pursuit of “A’s”.

Let me not change simply for change sake, but for effective and ongoing change which produces desired growth in the right direction.

I don’t know yet what a healthy rhythm of sabbath looks like for myself and my family, but I am willing to continue pursuing it every week and let God change us for the better.

Tonight, Saturday night, our usual night we attempt sabbath, was enjoyed as a youth worship night and fun event. It was a great time for all the kids and many adults, and we were blessed to be there. Sometimes we have to adjust the rhythm a bit--it is a learning process and we refuse to be rigid with it. However, we are committed to implementing sabbath at some point in each and every week.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Too Much

Been reading Ecclesiates in the mornings for a few days now. It depresses me.

I was already succumbing to the crashing waves of demand for various reasons and then reading about the futility of life seemed to bring on the tears.I am remembering my dear friend Ketty (in the left of the photo in her bright red jacket!) as September 5th marks the one year anniversary of her leaving us for a better place.

Overwhelmed by the thought of the few years I have left with my kids around. Taken with the reality of the struggles they have in their own attempts to maintain a personal walk with God. Wondering if I will ever have enough hours in the day to do all I want to do with them--instruct, laugh, work alongside, train, pray with/for, teach.
A photo with my lovelies on my 50th birthday a couple of years ago.

Praying for the neighbor who is caring for a tiny 7-month old Down's syndrome child who is very sick and has been even more sickly of late. Being concerned for the strain on her as she attempts to fully provide for him with all his needs and then carrying the weight of desire to walk in wisdom alongside her.

Waking up this morning to two dead rabbits that belong to the same neighbor, but were in our domain of attention while she was in the hospital with the 7-month old. We failed to put them away last night and a wild dog helped himself to a rabbit snack. Geoff had burial detail before 7 a.m. and then delivered the horrible news to her once she arrived back home after an 8-day hospital stay. Being the tellers of such bad tales was not on my agenda when I saw morning light a few hours earlier. The "if only" haunts were prevalent this morning as we all wished we'd remembered our furry neighbors last evening. (Buying new rabbits and delivering them helped shave off some of the painful burrs, but the loss delivers intermittent waves of regret for our irresponsibility.)

Sometimes the mistakes we make are just too much to bear.

As I was engaged in the mundane work of cleaning up yet another of life's messes this morning I remembered popular bumper sticker sagacity, "Life is hard and then you die." (I blame my reading of Ecclesiates each morning this past week for such optimism.) I quickly changed it to an arguably more depressing rendition, "Life is you making mistake after mistake and then you die."

Now before you pronounce me clinically depressed, listen. It is what you and I do with the mistakes that make all the difference.
Cry and whine?
Cry and Wine?
Cry and blame?
Cry and shame?
Pray and HUMBLY ask to be bolstered by His strength.

Humility is a theme that has come alongside the Sabbath focus for Geoff and me. We've had some nasty run-ins with our own failure to HUMBLY confront situations in family and friends. We've also watched as some ugly pride reared up in the words and actions of others have left a wake of confusion. And we have regretfully been a part of leaving our own path of destruction with words and attitudes levied at those who truly needed a bit of correction, but not in the way we delivered it.

What do you do when the weight of life seems too heavy, when you've been a part of laying burdens on others due to your pride--delivered offensively with either harsh words or attitudes, or when others' mistakes really do hurt and leave many addled and in want of health again?

I haven't yet mentioned the numerous extra relational things on my to-do list today that have been left undone because I am trying to rid my head of a migraine which is now going strong on 3 days. The pain and need to rest horizontal threatens to well up within me another dose of "you're not good enough because you're not accomplishing all you could today while you nurse a silly migraine." Today I am not meeting with girls in David family who have asked for mentoring; not having that tough conversation with someone who has asked for my guidance; not being present with someone who is grieving; and not able to walk alongside my own kids today; this one day in the short amount of time we have together on this earth.

When I was up for a short bit earlier to deliver this week's spelling words to the kids (yes, I still attempted here and there to accomplish some school instruction, but I wasn't very successful), Acacia went to the bookshelf to retrieve a dictionary and in so doing she knocked off and broke the frame around our picture of a Laguna Beach sunset. One of our few sources of visual peace we keep on the bookshelf to remind ourselves, in this land-locked country, of God's creative beauty in the ocean. The reality of the brevity of the lifespan of "stuff" sent a heat wave up my spine as I instantaneously pondered the futility of the energy required to keep all the "stuff" looking nice and functioning well. Again, I found myself feeling very, "Ecclesiastical."

Then I remembered as Acacia was in tears over her mistake that the only thing, THE ONLY THING, that really matters AT ALL is God Himself. As I hugged her and told her that what had just happened was really not a big deal, I was reminded that God alone is our comfort and the reason for which we live at all. These are the verses I reread today and I share for encouragement, ''Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man's all."

Of all His commandments, it is His commandment to FORGIVE that is staring at me today. To forgive myself and others when we don't measure up.

It is God who can help me find true humility--Who can help me find hope in the midst of my mistakes--Who can deliver me into life when I feel surrounded by death and struggle--Who can help ME to rest and have true Sabbath in Him, laying down my efforts to accomplish good, and instead walking in His righteousness.  Why? Because He Himself is humble, He is Hope, Life, Rest, Righteousness. It is this same God who has forgiven me all my sins and has commanded me therefore to forgive all those who have hurt me. And then, to bless them.

Yes, to bless. What did Job do after being mocked, berated, criticized, wrongly judged and blasted by his three "friends"? He obeyed God and prayed for them. "And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends." Lord, let me do the same to those who hurt me and even to myself when I can't see any of my stupid mistakes warranting redemption.

Let me pray for others and myself to know forgiveness, even to speak it out loud to them and to myself if I must and then pray a blessing over them (and receive one for myself.) Jesus gives me such comfort in His words, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

So, when life seems too heavy, too much, a mound of mistakes and failures--others or my own--let me learn from Him. Let me rest in Him and be hopeful because He was, He is, and He will always be in the midst of my life, my kids' lives, my neighbors' lives and your life. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Early last week we marked a month back on the ground at our home in central Uganda. The process as a whole has proved relatively seamless. Except that it seems like we've actually been here for months already!!!

Navigating traffic on our way to Entebbe recently. Gotta love the free-for-all driving style!!!!
We fluidly jumped midstream into a swiftly advancing school year and active community as we greeted friend after friend and children dear to our hearts. Less than four days following the opening of our front door, plastered with welcome back signs, we celebrated our annual New Hope Uganda Thanksgiving service with hundreds in attendance. Indeed, we are thankful.

Even the unpacking of our guest room where we had stored various items, combined with the emptying of our trunks and suitcases took only a couple of days. Apparently, we have finally become adept at this transcontinental shuffle. Miracles abound.

But, so what! Are we settled? 

Answering requires deeper examination. 

It is difficult to fathom that is has been about five weeks since placing our feet firmly again on Ugandan soil. Our activities have already been enough for five months as, among others, we helped ready and take Nabukeera to her apartment near her new university which she will call home for the next three years. When we were still stateside we encouraged her regarding her need to search for and secure a room for rent before we arrived back. Last Tuesday we loaded up all the furniture she recently accumulated and the rest of her belongings and moved them and her into the newly found 10x10 space—AFTER we thoroughly cleaned it out because the landlady, knowing she was to arrive, still hadn’t lifted a finger to dust a cobweb, clean the bathroom or empty the storage area of a bazillion spider and roach squatters or old tires, suitcases, broken shoes, open paint cans, tools and abandoned motorcycle parts. Two hours later we took her 5 km further down the road in Entebbe for some KFC lunch. Thankfully, she is now settled. But, are we?
Nabukeera on the day we loaded up her things and headed off to Entebbe
Sam’s birthday was last Monday. We attempted to shower him with the traditional New Hope dousing, but he cleverly begged the kids to let him change his school uniform first. Against my urging to ignore the uniform change request they allowed him to enter his bedroom where he quickly locked the door and proceeded to take a nap. Mr. Clever avoided the soaking tradition this birthday go-round. I promised him that next year we will throw water on him fully dressed! We had started the morning early by decorating the house with special lights, singing Happy Birthday and sending him off to school (and an exam—bummer on your birthday!) In the afternoon I spent most of my time preparing his favorite chicken pot pie and preferred lemon cake. He was all smiles and joy as we sang to him, ate cake and opened presents. This past weekend we went to Entebbe to enjoy some time out and to treat him to a movie.
Nabukeera joined us for lunch and the movie last Sunday while we were in Entebbe for Sam's birthday!
overlooking the botanical gardens while we waited for the movie start time to arrive
We are ecstatic to be back together again after six months separated by oceans. There is noticeable deeper relationship between us all. It’s the little things—he speaks up when he talks with us instead of mumbling as he has done so often in the past. He checks the chores rota for his part of the family responsibilities and completes them before school instead of floating out the door as an adrift island. He arrives home on time—boom, almost to the second—instead of ignoring family organizational structure by strutting in whenever. At the end of his birthday I expressed my sadness that his biologic parents couldn’t be here with him, but thankfulness that we have the privilege to parent him. He smiled and and said, “yeah.” He seems settled. But, are we?
We loved celebrating Sam's life!!!
Already in our short time back, we have ferried Toby back and forth to Kampala twice to spend a few days with his friend Joel Brown whose father helps run the Investment Year program piece from town. Toby has most definitely not settled yet and these visits have helped smooth some of the rough edges of him not even wanting to fit into a circled hole when he feels like a square peg. Joel’s family arrived in Uganda in 2006 within two weeks of us and though their friendship has waxed and waned over the years, it seems they are again picking up ties that bind those who navigate the challenges of two worlds. Toby is not yet settled and truthfully neither are we. 
Britton and Brown kids together again!
A lunch feast along with a little card playing 

I have picked up again with the young ladies that I mentor and Geoff has also begun to meet with the young men whom he mentors. Many evenings are spent hosting others for dinner or being hosted. We’ve celebrated staff birthdays and hosted department fellowships. We’ve begun a new year of homeschooling, launched 14 of our young adults into the next stage of their lives and have already navigated some big job position changes—Geoff and Uncle Mulu stepped in to share the responsibilities of overseeing the ChildCare Department when the previous head needed to step down. We’ve welcomed new babies to the community and are gearing up for weddings in the next few weeks.
Geoff entertains sweet little ones who came to celebrate staff member Kate Tolhurst's 40th!
Kate, Reuben and Mary Tolhurst on Kate's 40th
Kanakulya (L) shares his gratefulness to New Hope for shepherding him through his schooling and spiritual growth over the past ten years. He frequently had us filled with laughter as he told stories of his time here in school and in relationship with teachers, mentors, staff and other students. He recently graduated in clinical medicine and already is working in Kampala. 

David Family launched Mabel, Agnes, Kiweewa and Justine. Here we are with those four plus Kakande and Uncle Clive.

Amidst all the activity there remains a peace that we are where God has ordained for us to be at this moment in history. But, are we settled?

Is a journey without ripples possible? in many ways an emphatic, no. At the very heart of our existence is relationship. And regardless of the continent, we miss loved ones. Never able again to be fully at home in the states since we began ten years ago to find God’s place for us among the people of central Uganda, we still find ourselves missing U.S. family when in Africa and missing Ugandan family when in the U.S. 
My sister Amy with Kevin and me during our last weekend in the states

However, is there any common denominator to be found, any true peace to be had? Relationally, yes—but, for Christians only. 

A vibrant, thriving relationship with Father God and His Son, Jesus, is the ONLY relationship available everywhere in this vast world, admittedly made smaller with airline travel and communication technology, but still not close enough for real human intimacy. God alone fulfills us. As long as you permit me to loosely paraphrase C.S. Lewis, let me offer his thoughts that the very existence of our longings that can’t be filled by this world proves we belong to another world. And might I add that only our current and active connection to the world in which we truly belong is the Author Who cultivates within us a living relationship with Himself thereby offering real fulfillment.

So, settling has more to do with our God inside us working out toward the world around us than the environment which surrounds us working anything in us of fulfilled longing. Is it a statement then against us that I say we are not settled? Perhaps, but we are on a journey and though our relationship with our Father God ultimately fills and saves us we still are a work in progress. And often this work is painful.  

“Be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”  (Hebrews 13:5-6) And this man he speaks of includes ME. When I long for something other than what I have am I not settled? It is true that when I am in Uganda, when I am in the U.S. and anywhere in between God is with me. He is my helper and my remembrance of His constant presence crushes fear. 

But sometimes I let my mind wander to places that stir fear. What if I don’t have anything to say to the one who comes to me for mentoring? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I fail my kids in their homeschooling? What if I offend someone culturally and it pushes them away from God? What if God has something for me to do and I’m not hearing His direction? What if God moves us away from Uganda—will I be ready to go? What if we’re to stay here FOR-E-VER — will I always be willing to stay? This is just a small representation of the things that run through my mind in a day. These things come when I allow myself to believe that I must always be ON. They come when I fail to remember that God is God and I am not.

When I find myself too often churning “what if” thoughts, one of the passages I challenge myself with is I Peter 5:6-10, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

I think it is fair to say that living in this imperfect world is suffering. And also fair to say that this suffering, whatever shape it takes, moulds and changes us—we become either closer to or farther away from our Creator. 

So, when I say we are not yet settled it is because we are in process of moving ever closer to the One who is our ultimate lover. As He works in me I become able to “settle” though things around me are imperfect and not yet complete. The results of my mentoring others? Will I ever fully know how I’ve done? No. But, I can be settled knowing He is establishing and strengthening me along with them as we walk together.
praying a blessing over the young people during the launch service

I live in this imperfect world, but I am settled within its imperfection because God never leaves me and has called me to “His eternal glory by Christ Jesus.” This side of Heaven is not eternity—Thank God! But He is this side of Heaven and He is grace, strength, security and settling.

So, are we settled? Yes and No. Is that unsettling? I aim to keep an active hunger for the next world as I maintain connection to Him, ultimately looking forward to being forever in the next.
Acacia and Kambo with her new goat, Mohi. Mohi is the granddaughter goat of our beloved Holy who died just a couple of weeks before we arrived back in Uganda. Mohi came from Kambo's flock.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Journey from Point A to Point B Was Not a Straight Line

I got the call around 7 a.m. when I was not yet fully ready for the day. Yeah, I’d been up since 5 a.m., but basic daily hygiene had not yet happened. 

“Now? Today? Ok, I am on my way. How long do you think she has?”
“Twenty minutes.”

Hmmm, not enough time for a shower. Priorities. Brush the teeth and put on something decent for village public.

I made it to the front gate within 10 minutes, but instead of heading on out the gate and down the road I stopped when I saw Medi walking from the main road toward me. I was confused. 

I stuck my head and my arm out of the van window and gestured, “Whaaaat?” 

“She decided she’s not ready yet.”

I gave him a quick tutorial in the progression of labor pains and how to know when to call me again. I emphasized that this is her 5th pregnancy and she could quickly progress. That coupled with her tendency to wait until the very last moment before heading to the hospital could mean I might have to deliver a baby in the van. Not planning on doing that today. (The first time I ever transported Medi and his wife to the hospital for delivery was about eight years ago and she had a brand new baby girl within 20 minutes of our arrival to the maternity ward.) 

We parted and I returned home to shower and to begin working on school with the kids. I only had time to shower before he called, “We’re ready now.” Off I went.

From home to the hospital was a straight shot. I pulled directly in front of labor and delivery and walked with them into the labor “suite” in time to hear the nurse announce that because they hadn’t brought their own Kavera (large garbage bag) that they would have to pay 3000 shillings. She spread it out on the bed and Joyce prepared to climb up for examination. 

Medi suggested I leave, with comments regarding something about a mazungu’s (white person’s) presence being a detriment to smooth interaction with the nurses.

Happy to be already heading back home and potentially able to accomplish much for the kids’ school I left with a smile. 

My first detour was just a few feet past the exit gate when I saw off to the left a wave and a holler in my direction from inside the hospital fence. My friend Florence lit up excitedly as I stopped and we did our best to catch up on the past few months while my van boldly blocked the small dirt road leading from the hospital to the village center. Aaahhh, what a joy to see long time friends again!

With the van moving again toward point B I dodged potholes and maneuvered away from loose rock contemplating whether or not to stop to buy some local bread. While pausing to check my empty wallet a shadow filled the drivers’ side window and I startled to find the smiling face of another long time friend and former co-worker. We spent a few minutes sharing news and tidbits of our families before moving on. 

It seemed I now might make a sure straight shot home. Nope. I noticed one of our young adults walking to work at our Musana FM radio station. I offered a ride and made a U-turn back to the radio.

Another U-turn sent me homeward, but only a 1/4 km up the road I saw the woman who gardens next to our plot coming from her land. I hadn’t yet seen her since we returned from the states and a quick visit was in order.

As she and I finished speaking a pedestrian passed by—I had driven past him no less than four times already that hour and we laughed that I surely could have given him a ride at some point during my journeys.

Moving again I miraculously clipped off most of the balance of the winding road to New Hope before I came upon one of our girls who grew up with us, taught for our primary school for awhile and was now on her own in Kampala. Her sweet demeanor encouraged me to not worry about time or agenda, but just enjoy those God puts in my path.

Finally arriving at the main entrance I informed the watchman that I had taken Medi and Joyce to the hospital and told him there would soon be a new baby to rejoice over. I then proceeded past the gate.

Not even two minutes from my front door,  I still wasn’t home without one more stop. Rounding the corner toward my driveway I glimpsed a big smile and hands full of builder’s tools slowing to greet me. It was our dear Kambo heading to a job for the day. Every encounter with Kambo brings a smile and I didn’t want to miss receiving such so we talked for a few minutes.

Thinking I was now assured of completing my trek to point B, I rolled forward only to be flagged down by Kakande who wanted to know if I was going to take him somewhere. Honestly, I was tempted by his oversized, expectant smile, but no. It was home for me.

I love that it is pretty much NEVER a straight shot from point A to point B in our beautiful village community.
Thanks for reading, Mary

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

One Minute Off and Other Firsts

We’ve just finished what many along the way have termed the “road trip of a lifetime.”
Most said such because of the historical sites we were privileged to see. Some who called it that were rangers working for the National Park Service, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year and hosts millions annually to famous sites where America’s future was shaped. To stand with my children on Jamestown soil, in numerous battlefields of the revolutionary and civil wars, on the floors of today’s house of representatives and of Independence Hall where the paths to our freedom have been discussed, debated and decided, and to tour the capitol of our nation, brought our studies of American history to life. We were moved, amazed, awed and impacted together.

Yet, friends and family members brought even deeper enjoyment to our three week journey.

It was a journey of firsts! First time for the kids and Geoff to meet some of my relatives; for the kids and I to meet some of Geoff’s relatives; to see my College friends Geoff and the kids hadn’t known; be with former New Hope missionaries we’d never seen in their homes this side of the globe and to experience together 24 states in this great union.

Thank you to those who have continued to support us while we’ve been stateside. Your faithfulness to us through prayer and finances enabled us to take this social, historical and educational tour!!!!

We ended our longest road trip to date on Sunday and as we set off from Illinois headed to Denver, Geoff predicted we’d arrive at his parents home at 8:15 p.m. There were times during road work delays and thunderstorms that we all wondered if his time would hold true, but we entered the driveway at 8:16 p.m. He called the arrival time of a 16-hour road trip only one minute off from the actual! I think he's superman!

We realized our kids had NEVER had bubblegum! We remedied that on this trip!

Visiting with the Mitchell's in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Sweet!!!

We went a little bit off the main trail and spent an evening with cousins I hadn't seen for a bazillion years. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them and they certainly know how to host!

We all signed a piece of the copper that will be applied to the USS Constitution as it is refitted during its current dry dock session in Boston, MA. The kids were enthralled at the USS Constitution Museum and the ship itself.

Making our way towards Lexington and Concord we were pleasantly surprised to find Louis May Alcott's Orchard Home in Massachusetts.

You know you're getting old when you're nephew and his family take you out to dinner and not only pay for it, but also treat you with specialty coffees and other gifts to take back with you to Africa!!! I am so proud of Seth and his wife Delilah and their son Judah. I praise God for His work in their life.

Acacia and I pose with our ancestor's statue in Haverhill, MA. Story goes that she took matters and a hatchet into her own hands and gave her captors a dose of their own medicine when she scalped them. Don't mess with the women in our family!

Geoff gets his inner gangsta on at Faneuil Hall in Boston during some African American street performers' antics. He was chosen to be a part of the program complete with dancing and lots of humor at the "rich white man's" expense.

Toby was sincerely loved on and treasured by Sonya Hoover. It was fun to watch her follow him around.

The Britthoo school members revisited! Being with the Hoover's in PA was therapy.

The boys car was full of fun on the way to the Hershey Chocolate Tour!
Our Sunday dinner with the Hoover family was a Rolex fest in which everyone played a part and we all ate well. Geoff and Saraiah put together the Rolex's, while Sheldon fried the eggs, Acacia and Hosanna rolled out the chapatis for Toby and Hadassah to fry while Kevin, Mindi and I cut veggies. Yum.
Hosanna and Acacia rolled out the Chapatis for our Sunday dinner.
Creek Stomping in PA with the Hoovers kept the kids smiling for a LONG time!
Hoover and Britton family kids at the Hershey Tour
Toby and Acacia driving the boat on the Duck Tour in Boston

Everybody pose before we take the Duck plunge! It was a great tour of Boston!

Selfie with "Josiah Quincy" our tour guide on the Freedom Trail in Boston. I highly recommend taking one of these walking tours. He shared so much history and did it in an interactive format.

At Independence Hall in Philadelphia. George Washington's chair is in the far right of the picture. The chair of the "Rising Sun" so called by Benjamin Franklin for the sun rising on our freedoms.

In Washington DC we walked!!!!!!!! Literally between 8 and 10 miles one day! And while our feet were overwhelmed with ache, our hearts and minds were taken with the sacrifices made on behalf of our lives and freedom.

Geoff, his cousins and aunt in Fredericksburg, VA. They were sweet hosts and it was great to catch up.

Our favorite pose--the selfie! In Washington DC near the Washington monument.

And . . . a selfie at the White House. This is as close as they were letting anyone get on the day we were there.

The boys investigate one of the Yorktown, VA battlefields. The site of a decisive battle in the Revolutionary War.

The Liberty Bell was an inspiration to us all.

Toby was  so excited (as you can see) for this Lincoln Memorial selfie.

Silence at the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  We were in awe.

The chamber in the capitol building where early congress debated and decided our futures. The book on the desk signifies Charles Sumner's position in the room. We have never forgotten his story from our studies. Sometimes the debate on slavery became so heated that violence broke out. It deeply impacted us knowing that he was beaten so badly as he defended abolition that he was debilitated for four years.

The kids at the desk of one of our Colorado Representatives.

Acacia in front of the words for the Gettysburg Address which she memorized three years ago.

The Washington Mall was a fun walk!

We connected with my YWAM Switzerland roommate, Elizabeth, and her husband in Alexandria, VA. She and I found a lot of common ground as we discussed the happenings of the years we've spent apart. Neither one of us felt very good the night we visited, but it didn't matter--we loved catching up!

A peculiar road side site in the Montgomery, AL area.

Feeding the ducks and turtles at Linda and Jan's was a favorite activity.

At Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Wanda gave us a tremendous tour and we loved being with Jan and Linda as were heard about the triumphs of the civil rights movement.

It was moving to seeing this original Confederate Flag in Montgomery, AL, at the First White House of the Confederacy.

Uncle Jan brought us teriyaki grasshoppers from Japan!

The Triggs. Loved seeing my dear Pepperdine friend and her family in SC!

In the cockpit of the C130. Our private tour was beyond our wildest imaginations! Thanks Uncle Jan!

In Alabama we ATE and ATE and ATE and it was Good! Linda is a wonderful sister and fantastic cook!

Love the bathroom sign at the BBQ restaurant!

Yup. He wore this shirt on purpose for eating BBQ!!!!

Posing with the staff at Champ's BBQ

Uh, Oh! somebody is in trouble in the south!

With my childhood friend, Mark Crawford, and his family in Nashville, TN, who fed us well and treated us to an enjoyable evening.

Checking Kevin's bullseye

Geocaching! it made the road trip an adventure.

We are now in the throes of the final couple of weeks of our stay stateside. It has been rich and full. We fly on July 5th and will sleep in our home in Uganda on the 7th.