Home is Where…

November marks one year to the month that I moved from Uganda back to the USA (the first time).

I’ve been struggling to find time for much-needed rest and reflection as the busyness of life lately keeps my head spinning. However, getting out of town last weekend and returning to one of the most beautiful parts of Uganda provided opportunity for some introspection (much of which occurred while cursing and crawling through a triathlon course).

In the past year, I’ve had: 2 travel, family, and fun-filled months of reunions and reconnecting in Texas, California, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Oregon, Colorado and Washington over the 2014 holidays; 4 insanely busy and fulfilling months working in NY; 1 month of pre-UG moving prep and goodbyes round 2; and then 5 months settling in to life and work here in Jinja. It’s been a year marked by transitions, challenges, and change — but with enough blindingly beautiful and rewarding moments thrown in to make it all so, so worth it.

I’ve celebrated as friends achieved goals, mourned through losses of seasons and relationships, embraced the challenge of a new crazy job with 2 months left until our 30,000 person event, welcomed a new chapter of Uganda life in a completely different setting, said goodbyes to countless people near and far, kept connected to my international support system that literally and figuratively crosses the oceans in love for me, and more. I’ve been accepted and rejected to graduate schools. I’ve made mistakes and weathered through painful trials. I’ve rejoiced and danced and enjoyed incredibly meaningful and precious relationships.

Through it all, I am learning the value of home — the little things that keep us afloat. Daily comforts, amusements, and ties that ground us. This looks different in different places. The feeling of looking at the ocean when I was back on Pepperdine’s campus in January after years away. The inside jokes I have with a Ugandan colleague. The eccentric coffee shop owner in NY who’d always brighten by day with his cheerfulness. The life-giving nature of those text conversations with people that just GET it. The lingering admiration and gratitude experienced when watching a sunset with a person you love. The feeling of getting hugged by someone who’s known you since you were born. The wonderful way that a good cup of coffee, a hot shower, laughing from your belly, or curling up with a great book feels the same everywhere, and always has and always will (who doesn’t remember those hours spent reading as a child?). The knowledge that while giving myself away is necessary and important, so is getting filled up. Having someone tell you that you make a difference; that he/she values you; that you bring something uniquely beautiful to the table.

So do you.

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