Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Church

There are times in life when we are disappointed in the people around us for one reason or another. I have experienced that. However, I would like to take this opportunity to share how I have had the opposite experience in recent months.

Many of you know that I got married on the 18th of August. Leading up to the wedding was one of the most wonderful and most stressful seasons of my life. Something that didn't help was that Kagi was wrongfully kept from travelling to Canada when he was supposed to. It was one of those "how can something this unjust be allowed to happen" moments, and there was a time when we weren't sure our wedding would be able to happen. Thankfully the situation was resolved(ish) and he was able to come to the wedding.

There were some other pretty difficult surprising things that have happened in the last few months. I admit now that a good chunk of the problems probably could have been avoided if I was more aware of my limitations. I tend to have a "I can do anything if I really try" perspective on things. I learned this summer that actually, there are quite a few things that I can't do. Planning a destination wedding in less than 5 months while traveling in 3 continents and 5 countries (including a month in a village in Africa without much internet access), all on a very small budget, probably falls into that category. I also can't control border agencies (to name a few examples).

But, miracle of miracles, even as I realized my limitations I was blessed with an amazing engagement time and a wedding that was beter than I would have dreamed it to be... even if I had more time and more resources and a better proximity to the location. Kagi and I had friends from the USA, Canada, England, Botswana, Turkey (:-)), Zimbabwe, and I am probably missing something. We had an incredible photographer and a brilliant videographer. My dress was exactly what I wanted. The food was top-notch. The music and dancing were SO fun. Even the weather was absolutely ideal.

And it didn't come together because of me... as much as I wanted to bear the burdon for the whole thing. Left to me, it would have been like a half-baked cake, because my oven died before the baking time was up. I totally burned out.

It was the grace of God and it was His people. It was the Church.

My amazing friends and sisters pulled off two amazing showers and a bachelorette party for me. Countless people helped with the wedding and there were about 10 super-star heroes who stepped in to make the wedding better than it could have been if my budget was 10 times bigger. I'm not kidding.

The bachelorette party in Toronto.

Although I know that weddings are important in a person's life, my wedding seems a very small thing in the scheme of all of the problems in the world. I can't tell you how loved by God I have felt in these last months -- like a little girl who was given a totally undeserved gift by her daddy "just because I love you." (I am now crying at the computer in awe.) Thank you, Lord.

And thank you, Church.

  • Thank you Emily and Deb for being there for me the whole way through -- and especially for the shower and bridesmaid things you did.
  • Thank you Allison for making signs and planning the best bachellorette party ever and for being so happy for us. Thank you for helping with the music and for the dress. Thanks for recruiting your friends for the documentation jobs. Thanks for the amazingly sweet speech.
  • Thank you Jenni for speaking, for your huge part in the music and for being Kagi's advocate for years now:-).
  • Thank you Jesse for making the trip even though it was so fast and inconvenient with your schedule. Thanks for not trying to beat Kagi up or anything. Thanks for being the life of the party.
  • Thank you Catherine for making it possible for me to have fun... for making all the decisions and dealing with last minute issues. Thanks for good talks about marriage.
  • Thank you Kara for the surprise lingerie shower.
  • Thank you Meagan for playing violin and singing.
  • Thank you Lish for singing.
  • Thank you Moody family for really being my Maryland family. I am so blessed by you guys, it's hard to put it to words. Thank you for hosting my bridal shower as well as for feeding and housing me when I'm in Maryland. Thank you for your many prayers for me/us.
  • Thank you Katie for jumping in and organizing things on the day of the wedding without much information to go on ahead of time.
  • Thank you Steven for being a great Emcee -- for taking the time to learn the difficult names and for doing a great job of going with the flow.
  • Thank you Gladstones for hosting so many people in PA. Thanks for doing the drinks, for hosting a shower and for hosting me so often! You guys are amazing.
  • Thank you Jonathan for being the BEST man. My parents keep talking about how impressed they were with you.
  • Thank you Uncle Fred and Aunt Beth for coming up early and for helping with so many things. Thank you for helping us financially as well.
  • Thank you Dan, Seth, and Matt for running to our B&B during much of the reception to check us in.
  • Thank you Amy for doing the photography in exchange for the trip, and for being such a great support throughout the whole wedding and rehearsal days.
  • Thank you JP for making the trip as well! Thank you for videoing the whole thing so Kagi's family can feel like they are included and know they are loved.
  • Thank you Rudy and Sharon for being such an encouragement to us. Thanks for serving God in Botswana and for using your experience to bless us and make our wedding so much more meaningful.
  • Thank you Tim, Bethan, Ffion and Mererid for spending your savings to come to America to be with us for our big day. Thanks for doing the incredible decorations and Tim for the amazing sermon.
  • Thank you Ronit for the invitation and save the date designs. They were awesome.
  • Thank you Peter for doing the music and DJing for us. You did an amazing job -- my favorite dance party!
  • Thank you Artaj and Judy for making the whole thing possible. Thank you for your incredible hospitality, your generosity, the use of your house, and your friendship throughout.
  • Thank you Mom for my veil and bunting and decorating and hosting and for loving me so well. Thank you for being so excited for us.
  • Thank you Daddy for being there for me. Thank you for writing blog posts about me and for loving me so much that I know it was hard to give me away. Thanks for being happy for us anyway. Thanks for being a part of things like the flowers, and for building me a gazebo and putting the doors up. Thanks for running errands for the chairs and dealing with the problems I caused by forgetting to tell you to bring cash for the caterer. Thanks for being generous with funds for the wedding. Thanks for dancing with me.
  • Thank you David and Julie for being here for Kagi during his terrible days trying to get to Canada. Thanks for your help with our expenses and for being so gracious to us.
  • Thank you everyone who came. You all travelled far and it would not have been the same without you!

Here is a preview photograph from Amy Birdsong ( I am expecting the rest of the photos to be arriving within the next few days, so I'll be posting them around as I go through them. In the meantime, if you want to see more visit Amy's web site. There are lots of pics from our wedding there.
And thank you, Church, for your prayers and encouragement throughout our visa difficulties and separation. I can't imagine this without you, but with you it has really not been that bad. Thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Gray Nomads"

Last week I went to a conference in the Yorkshire Dales (a place I love) for a conference hosted by Rob and Jane Garratt of 5000 Plus. I was blessed to be the youngest (by quite a bit), spending several days with some very amazing servants of Christ.

5000 Plus was started by Rob and Jane as they listed to God about what He would have them do about poverty in the world. While on a visit to Nepal several years ago, Rob was feeling very helpless about the poverty he saw everywhere. One day, while worshipping with a local pastor and good friend, God spoke to Rob and told him that they needed to start with what the people have, not what they don't have. Their ministry philosophy is derived from the story where Jesus feeds the five thousand in Mark 6. They note that Jesus tells the disciples, "You give them something to eat," and that ultimately they use what they have (loaves and fish). Jesus then multiplied it, and gave it back to the disciples to feed the crowd. It's exciting to hear how Jesus has done just this in the communities 5000 Plus works in.

Rob and Jane are looking for other "Gray Nomads" to work with them in taking the message and teaching of 5000 Plus to more impoverished communities. These people with life experience, financial and time flexibility are in a unique position to make a huge difference for the sake of the poor. Do you know anyone you think might be interested? The only requirement is that they are open for adventure!

Here are some pictures from my hike one afternoon in the Dales. They really are beautiful!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making Dinner for my Botswana Family

I have really enjoyed getting to know Kagi's family. They are really sweet and great -- I'm sure in the future there will be lots more to share.

Last week, on my 5th day in Bots, Kagi thought it would be a good opportunity for us to make dinner for the family. His favorite is Honey Baked Chicken and figured they'd love it too. We determined that there would be 12 people there, and set to work in the early afternoon. I prepped 6 cups (dry) of rice, which I expected would be sufficient for the group (each person would have a full cup to eat), and made 13 pieces of chicken in the luxurious buttery, honey, curry sauce. We also made a large pot of butternut squash and some cookies.

Kagi asked everyone to be available at 5:30. A little later he told them 5. We were going to have it at Grandma's house because of the table there, but then when it neared 5 we decided to change it to his mom's house when we realized that there would be numerous unexpected guests at Grandma's house (particularly because she kept inviting people:-)) and we hadn't prepared enough food for them. He suspected we might actually eat around 6:30 or 7.

At 6:30 when we went to pick up the table from Grandma's house, a discussion ensued resulting in the decision to have the dinner at Grandma's after all. We went back to his mom's to finish and bring the food. By this time, I was panicking because I wasn't sure that there was enough rice. I forgot that, although Americans use rice as more of a side dish, most of the world fills their plates with rice and puts other things on the side. This is certainly true in Botswana. OOPS! I was praying that God would miraculously expand the amount of rice, and that there would be enough chicken to go around.

At 8 we had all 12 family members around the table with the food (amazingly) still hot. Although no one said much during the meal the rice did miraculously seem sufficient and I have heard since that they really liked the food. I was SO relieved and thankful.

After the meal, in order to thank me, all the ladies sang me a beautiful song English and then a few more songs in Setswana. I'd love to upload a video of it, but am having trouble doing it right now. It was a really nice evening-- full of cultural lessons I'm glad I was prepared for!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Off to Africa

I am headed to Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time today! I am scheduled to fly to Johannesburg where I'll meet up with Kagi and then travel by bus to Gabarone, Botswana.

Kagi and another friend Patricia have told me that I MUST bring warm clothing because it is winter and cold. Apparently people tend to not bring clothing for cold weather since it's Africa and everything.

Because of their advice, I am bringing some warm clothing. But this morning when I searched the weather for Gaborone I found this:

In case you can't see, the weather is expected to be in the 80s (degrees F) all week and very sunny.
Needless to say, I understand why people don't bring winter clothing. Even so, I'm going to trust my Botswana friends, and will have to let you know how it goes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm Getting Married!!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the delay in writing! It has been a CRAZY month of getting engaged, two trips to Wales, a trip back to the States, a week in Seattle, and now, finally, being back in Spokane with my parents.

Today I'm trying to get caught up with a variety of things, and realized that I haven't even written here in way too long. Instead of telling you about my engagement here I'd like to direct you to, which has lots of pictures and as much information as we have so far.

Our wedding is going to be August 18th in Niagara Falls, ON, Canada. There's more about that on the blog.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I love the Yorkshire Dales!

This weekend, the Global Cafe team went into the Yorkshire Dales near Harrogate and had a really nice time together. The drive up was difficult (for the drivers) because the fog was so thick you could barely see a car length ahead. The picture below were from when the sun was thinking about breaking through. I hope you can get the idea of how dreamy it is up there!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I made a cake yesterday after finding a picture on Pinterest and following the guidance of its creator's blog. Here is a link to the actual instructions and recipe: It is such a cool cake.

Although mine definitely was not as great as I hoped... and did take a lot of work... it gave me hope for future fancy cakes I'll make!

Simple on the outside....

CRAZY on the inside!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chinese Investment in Africa

The conference I went to last week, Conference on Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Africa at the University of London, was SO good. I learned more than expected, rubbed shoulders with people I never expected to be in the same room with, and really enjoyed the talks and ideas shared. It is so encouraging to have experiences like that which affirm what our new organization, Anda Leadership, is doing. It seems that the things God put on our hearts are timely and needed. Our task is to manage the opportunity well.

I'm going to post this week about some of my favorite talks.

The first was the one I tried to record after it got going and I realized the information is critically important... not just because of what the speaker said but also because of the response he received from the audience. Sadly I exited the recording app on my iPhone before saving it, but thankfully was sent the slides so I can remember more of it!

In the world of African business and development, the fact that the Chinese government and Chinese companies have been investing there has gained a lot of attention. Before the conference, I heard that the Chinese are there to take advantage of business opportunities and are not known to have many scruples about how they do that. There is concern that they win business because they might not have a problem with corruption, and are not known for highly ethical work. It has also been said that China is trying to use the continent for its abundant natural resources.

At the conference, this came up throughout the morning. I think a majority of the attendees were African, and the emotion in the room was perceptible when it came up. People who care about Africa feel strongly about China's presence in Africa.

In the afternoon, William So, from China Unicom Africa, took the stage. He holds a high level position in international leadership for China, particularly in business and investment. I was extremely impressed by his presentation and poise throughout his time presenting and being cross-examined. He honestly and directly explained China's position in Africa... the good and bad parts. He continued to do this even though the audience laughed at him and scoffed at much of what he said. 

Here are my notes:
- The major source of funding investment in Africa are government owned businesses. Gradually, private businesses are investing more. During the question and answer time, he said that government sponsored businesses generally produce the low-quality goods Africans expect from Chinese companies. He thinks private investment is much better.
- Funding from the government comes in two forms. The first is sovereign loan/donation, which is infrastructure focused. Sometimes this is done in the form of non-cash donations, which are usually infrastructure focused. So, maybe China would come into an African country and build a road or rail system. Because one of African development's most important physical need is infrastructure (according to most speakers at the conference), this is important for Chinese businesses working in Africa. As one participant pointed out in the Q&A time, this investment might also be why Africa is the greatest growth-market in the world. The second way the Chinese are investing is direct investment. These are business acquisitions or new local entities focused on resources. Apparently this has become more popular in recent years.
- Funds in the form of sovereign loans/donations from the Chinese government usually go directly to local governments. China sees the reigning government as the legitimate one, and are hurt that they have been accused of supporting evil regimes like the former Libyan government when, in fact, they were supporting the only recognized, legitimate government at the time. He pointed out that Americans were supporting rebels. (Interesting cultural valuation difference, huh?) Then the African government can invest money back into Chinese companies, which can then build infrastructure.
- Funds from the government in the form of investment are put directly into the Chinese companies. They then support local economies in the normal ways, and taxes go to the benefit of local governments. The African government is able to access natural resources and then sell them to the Chinese. (I'm pretty sure this is what he meant).
- The benefit of funds from the Chinese government to Africa is that Africa reaps the long-term benefit of infrastructure development. However, local economies don't see much short-term benefit since they bring in the companies from China, so not everyone is initially impacted. Mr. So seemed to think this is a reason the investment isn't appreciated by the masses.
- Funds from the private sector "inject cash into the local economy." Chinese companies begin an African operation, buy from African suppliers, hire African employees, provide goods for African consumers and by providing jobs create more ability for Africans to be consumers, and then those consumers can purchase from the Chinese company again. Mr. So believes this is the better way for Chinese investment in Africa.

Mr. So also explained why China got involved in Africa. They wanted more friends at the UN, and by making friends in Africa they figured they could get a lot of support with little resistance. I assume you can see some of the problems with this -- friendships could turn into political strong-arming if a government owes significant money to a strong country like China. He said later they realized that the natural resources would be good for China as well and started investing to that end. China is not shy to say that they are investing for their own benefit, but also will point to the ways their input is of benefit to Africa as well. He pointed out that other superpowers have done the same thing, but lacking the honesty (think colonization).

The question and answer time was emotional and informative. It is clear that things have not been done perfectly and there is debate as to whether the outside involvement is good or bad. One African journalist asked to speak and thanked Mr. So for being so honest about China's selfishness and then admonished the Africans in the room to take control of the future of their own continent, and not be mad that others are using them.

At Anda Leadership, we would like to be a part of helping African entrepreneurs to evaluate opportunities and do as the journalist suggested. We think that African leaders are fully capable of managing their communities in a way that will benefit them now and for generations to come. It is our mission to help them to that end in the ways they identify that they need... not in ways that makes us feel good.

I recently posted internship opportunities on our web site. Take a look if you or someone you know might be interested!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Packing Light

As I packed for London, I knew that I wanted to do a lot of walking and would need to keep my stuff with me almost all of the time. So I decided to pack carefully. I managed to get everything needed for two days (including formal clothing for a conference and reading materials for 10 hours on buses) into this bag:

Fully-packed bag for the conference trip.
Here's how I did it:

This is just about everything I took. on the left is my packing cube with all clothes and underwear, and my belt, shoes, clutch purse, and make-up bag. In the middle are the essential toiletries for a shower (which went into another packing cube), and a London tour book (actually wasn't necessary, oh well). Behind is my backpack which I think already had a few snacks in it. On the right are the clothes I actually wore the next morning.

Here is the main section of my bag. See how neat packing cubes make everything? The shoes and belt went on top.
I could have taken a lot more, but was thinking I'd probably need to carry whatever I took for up to ten miles of walking over the two days in London. I love walking in general and especially like seeing a city that way. One of my rules of thumb for exploring is that it is done best with as little baggage as possible.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I had a great two-day trip to London for a conference on "Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Africa" on Saturday. I wend down via coach (bus) early Friday morning and then walked the 4.5 miles to my hostel. On the way I found a massive discount store called Primark, which was a great place to explore and buy a few things. I got to the hostel in the late afternoon and chilled/caught up on email and had an early evening.

Saturday morning I had breakfast at the Hostel and then jumped on the London Underground for the trip to my conference, which was at the University of London. It was a fantastic conference, not large but attended by journalists, dignitaries like government ministers of several African countries, and many business and development people. I am so glad that I made the trip.

I walked back to the Victoria Coach Station after the conference ended, enjoying the three hour window to see more of London and eat dinner near the station.

I love the buildings in London. This conference provided the opportunity to see parts of the city I haven't seen on more touristy trips, and here are some pictures I took along the way.

I thought this building was so pretty.

Just a typical street in (a nice area of) London.

I was so impressed by these women. They are high level leaders in the governments of Ethopia, Rwanda, and Kenya. The fourth lady was the moderator. It is so exciting to hear about what governments like Rwanda are doing with their "Vision 2020."

:-)!! This was so beautiful in the flesh.

A sight very unlike an American street.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

National Media Museum

On Saturday, Kagi and I ventured to the UK's National Media Museum, one of Bradford's most popular (and free) destinations, and which neither of us had been to.

We only made it through the first few floors in the two hours or so we were there, and decided that we'd rather go back when we have more time than rush through. It is a fantastic museum and I look forward to going back soon!

Here are some photos we took on the photography floor. With the help of Instagram on my iPhone and some ready sets we felt we could step into history:-).

I somehow broke character here :-).

(back to looking normal)

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Make Bradford British"

Today I watched a new show which BBC produced called Make Bradford British. It was a very interesting look at this city and some of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural realities of this place. It reminded me of many conversations I've had here and really why I love this city. Although many look at the diversity as a down-side, it is the reason I was drawn to it and why I continue to love it here.

I'm not sure if you can see this show in the states. In the UK it can be viewed here: let me know if you can get to it in the States, OK? If you're interested, this will give a good introduction to where I live at the moment.

It is interesting to me how the "melting pot" reality here is different than it is in the USA. I guess that's all I'll say here now, but I'd love to have conversations to understand it better!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Screaming Bloody Murder (sorry to the Brits who read this)

Today I found out that one of the phrases I remember my mom using regularly... after all her clean mouth mandates...  is a swear phrase after all! I was telling my friends about the kid next door yelling and used the phrase "screaming bloody murder," which was the best way I could think to describe what I heard.

I should have seen it coming... when I think about what that means literally it isn't very nice. Apparently it's really bad here!

I especially should have seen it coming because we've been playing a lot of Banana Grams (a game like Scrabble) lately. Sometimes a word I think is a little on the edge but wouldn't find offensive (ex: turd) gets a much stronger reaction than expected from my British friends.

Well... just another example of how, although we speak the same language, there are so many nuances between British and American English. I think I'm mostly fluent in British English but occasionally slip up like I did today.

Yet another reminder to think before I speak... and always a little more when in another culture!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Culture Shock

I think culture shock happens not necessarily when you're in a new culture but rather when you have expectations that things will be a certain way, and then you find what you expect to be familiar... different. I have experienced culture shock just a few times in my life and often forget what it's like. You see, if you decide to expect the unexpected, international life is usually fun and manageable.

A situation the other day caught me completely off guard and I'm still a little shocked at how it affected me. I was in a usually comfortable situation and suddenly nothing was familiar. I ended up breaking down and needing to disappear for a while -- suddenly feeling overwhelmed with grief for the familiar life I left behind.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Packing Light

I just read this blog post after seeing it on Pinterest. I think it is a great description of how to pack lightly -- even when travelling for months at a time.
I'd add that I LOVE my packing cubes which can be found here. They have allowed me to keep things neat and easily accessible when living out of a backpacking backpack for several months. Really, they're wonderful. Here's a picture:
Packing Cubes
I also should admit that I did not pack light for this trip... and although it's somewhat nice to have more things here, it might be nicer to live lean especially when you're not really in your own space.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting Settled

I know... it is high time I write a post! It is always easier for me to write about new things... places I've gone, etc, than about an experience that feels more "normal." I guess that's the nature of an adventure blog. I have had a wonderful month of homecomings, which have in fact felt pretty normal... a WONDERFUL thing! I am now back in Bradford. Although this month has involved plenty of travel, they have been comfortable, getting settled in places I know with people I know.

I feel really blessed to have friends around, work to do, and a great place to stay. Here are some pictures from the last month.

Deb, Katrina and I went to Arundel Mills Mall in MD. We found these CRAZY fluorescent patent leather shoes there. I'm sure they'll be all the rage soon -- we had a great time playing around in them.

After doing a pretty good workout we decided to go to a local restaurant for a huuuuge late lunch. It was spectacular. I love and miss these women too much... they make my life amazing.

And of course, it is absolutely wonderful to be back in the same location with Kagi:-).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Massive Clean Out

For the last several years, I've had many of my things stored in the house I formerly lived in (due to the graciousness of my former housemate!). One of the things I really wanted to do in Maryland was to go through it. I planned to give much of it away and catalog what I kept so I no longer wonder what I have and will be aware before buying duplicates. 

I think having stuff I use is fine, but especially stuff just being stored can be a burden. I wanted to cut my belongings down as much as I could. It ended up being a big project, but I'm really happy with the results. I got rid of about 2/3 of my stored clothes, toiletries, and etc and organized the rest, taking videos and pictures of the layers in the box for future reference:

I hope I'm not a gypsy for much longer. Regardless, living lean and simply is incredibly freeing. I still have much more than I need but this a step in the right direction!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Beauty of Home

There is something so wonderful about coming home to friends who know you well, to a place you have been really connected and where you feel loved. The majority of my adult life has been spent in Maryland and it is a wonderful place for me. I am so blessed to have many friends still here, and love the opportunity to be with them.

The traveling life has some major down sides, and the biggest one is not getting to be around consistently with those you love. I'm thankful for the grace my friends have shown to me, welcoming me home over and over and faithfully keeping in touch. Really, they make this life so much better.

One of my great friends, Emily, after or 2012 New Years Eve Bake Fest (preparing for a very fun party).