eight days and counting…

I cannot tell you how many times I check my phone daily to count the days until our next R&R. It feels like a lifetime ago that we were walking the streets of Greece with my parents, enjoying good coffee and eating as much greek salad as we could shovel in our mouths. The last several weeks have been extremely trying. Both K and I have been sick. (I am just now getting my appetite back after weeks of just crackers and 7UP) We also had to say goodbye to a good friend, who was heading home after a year and a half in South Sudan. Life here feels a bit empty without her, I keep waiting for her to come into my office with some crazy story or a weird food combination for me to try. I am laughing less these days without her, its been rough. So needless to say that we are more than ready for a break.

This little one wanted to give me a dirty rag... and then all the kids laughed.

This little one wanted to give me a dirty rag… and then all the kids laughed.

There have been some high points in the last several weeks as well. K has been battling with the elements (literally) to get supplies up to a remote field site. He loaded a large truck with supplies and day after day he tracked their progress (or lack of) and heard about delays due to weather, mechanic trouble, flat tires, and communities physically delaying the truck, you name it and it has delayed this truck. When it looked like the truck just wasn’t going to make it K chartered a flight to fly in supplies to this field site. (This is the man you want in charge of getting you supplies!) So he chartered this flight and bought all new supplies to send and loaded the plane. Can you believe that the chartered flight and the truck arrived with in hours of each other to this field site? You have to laugh, honestly more supplies at this field site is a win for everyone. It was a ton of work and coordination, but worth it… right K?

This little one was super happy to see her reflection. I couldn't help but smile.

This little one was super happy to see her reflection. I couldn’t help but smile.

I have been battling donors, project reports, and new proposals. A few weeks ago I was successful getting one of the proposals that I wrote accepted by a new donor. Its short term funding, but will really help bridge a funding gap in our programming. It was a really great feeling to have this proposal accepted. I felt like I might actually be good at my job! When sharing the news with my brother he kindly reminded me that even if it wasn’t accepted I was still good at my job. Love that guy.

Another reflection lover.

Another reflection lover.

I was able to spend a few days out at a field site, which I loved every minute of it. I was able to attend a community meeting and inter-act with the local community. I had so many memories of being in communities in Zimbabwe. It was a great trip to see our field teams in action. I did not see any scorpions during my visit which was a bit of a let down, but cause I was on high alert for these little creatures. But I did have a lovely wake up call by a baby bat, so not all was lost.

Little man super bored during a community meeting was pretending he was driving a motorcycle. It was awesome.

Little man super bored during a community meeting was pretending he was driving a motorcycle. It was awesome.

We are both tired and ready for some time just the two of us in Nairobi. (K has booked us a trip to the spa for my birthday!) And we are super pumped to meet up with our friends Nicole and Josue in Zanzibar and live on the beach. I can’t wait to take deep breaths of ocean air. It’s going to be amazing.

And Birdie keeps growing. I love that K is wearing the same shirt in both pictures.

And Birdie keeps growing. I love that K is wearing the same shirt in both pictures.

But for the eight remaining days I going to enjoy every moment of turning on our bathroom sink tap and have the shower turn on… don’t even ask because I have no idea.


the first three months…

Its amazing to me that K and I have been in Juba for nearly three months. Some days it seems like we have only arrived yesterday and others it feels like we’ve been here for years. I’ve heard it said that a year in Juba is like seven years every where else. I can not argue with this statement. Life is a bit more challenging here, even just getting the basic things can become a long and trying experience. I watch K as he battles to get the supplies and vehicles for our project and I find myself being so proud of him. He works long days, his phone rings constantly, he battles cultural differences left and right, he has to creatively come up with solutions to problems in transportation, and he has a staff of 30+ always knocking on his door asking for things. Its impossible to watch him work and not be proud. But this guy needs a break.

Boys hard at work.

Boys hard at work.

Tomorrow afternoon K and I will board a plane for Greece for our first R&R. WE CAN NOT WAIT. But wait it gets better. Two weeks ago when we were planning this trip we Skyped with my parents and invited them to join us. It was a shot in the dark and before we spoke with my parents both K and I said that it would never happen. My parents love to travel, but we were only giving them two weeks notice and they have alot of responsibility at home as they take care of my Grandparents who live with them and full time jobs and you know… just stuff that life throws at you. But K and I decided to ask cause we love mixing it up. But I would just like to tell you that I’ve got amazing parents who are constantly surprising me. They said yes. So not only do we get to spend the next two weeks in Greece, we also get to be with my parents. I cannot tell you how great it will be to hug my Mom and Dad and spend time with them. I feel like I have been given such an amazing gift I do not even know how to express how thankful I am.

Our goals for the next two weeks are as follows: greek food, hugging parents, greek food, fast internet, sleep, hugging parents, drinking nice greek wine, greek food, seeing beautiful places, and greek food. Should be amazing.

baking solves all problems…

Well except maybe weigh gain, but come on being chubby around the edges just means you are happy. Right?! Well that’s what I tell myself. This last month I’ve been working hard to get my little well rehabilitation project up and running. And for the most part things have been running smoothly. The materials have been delivered and well locations have been selected.


The plan is to rehabilitated 7 existing wells that have fallen into some state of disrepair. We are providing the new pump materials and working together with the District Development Fund (DDF) a local government program who  will provide the labor and expertise to repair the wells.


Many of the wells are over 60 meters deep and the length of the pipes that will be replaced are each 3 meters long. So when you do the math… like me all month long (because the plan has changed several times, not due to my poor math skills) you have to order 139 pipes. And when you replace pipes you also replace the rods inside. So that’s also an order of 139 rods.


The supply truck that brought all the materials wouldn’t fit in our long drive way, so K led a great team of guys to load up our little trucks and ferry materials from the large truck on the street in front of the house to our garage for temporary storage before it goes out into the field. They worked hard but had a little fun too.


The above picture is one of the wells we intend to rehabilitate. As you can see the cement around the well, which protects the water in the well from any kind of harmful element leaking in is in horrible condition. The well still pumps water but only barely. The head of DDF told me he thinks something is disconnected which is making pumping water much harder than is should be. This well is located inside a school yard and is used mostly by school children. They are having to work ridiculously hard to get a small amount of water. We plan to change that.


The project was supposed to begin on Tuesday… but there was a flat tire and other complications. And so I went to join the DDF team on Wednesday, but they didn’t show due to other complications. So instead of sitting around and wasting a day we,  my coworker Washington and I worked along side the community gathering stones. Hey, don’t kid yourself its a lot of work. But I had a blast chatting with the wife of the community leader and other community members. The wife of the community leader was quite the woman. She is the one in the blue skirt in the picture above. Her first question for me was to ask me how many children I have. When I said none so far she asked why? Come to find out she has eight children… so yeah she wanted to know why I didn’t even have one.


I also taught… or better yet attempted to teach the group of boys who helped collect stones the game Red Light Green Light. Its a good game if you have limited language skills. However, the concept of freezing when I turned around didn’t really work out too well. Most of the boys ran so fast, there was no way to stop in time. So it was like the longest game ever… each time I saw every boy still moving, so they all had to start at the beginning again. But I think they enjoyed it… I loved every minute of it.

And so now I’m hoping the DDF team made it to the first site today. I plan to go out on Friday to assess the progress and or to come up with a plan B. In the mean time I baked… just to keep the stress away and because when working on something that isn’t coming together the way I would have planned I like to bake. I like the satisfaction of finishing something and having the end result turn out well. Its something I started in grad school and I’ve continued it, because it works for me.


Of course I needed help eating the goods that I baked, and I’ve got the greatest team to offer up their services.


I think the team secretly loves when my projects go a little off track… perhaps I should look into whether these delays aren’t being caused by someone inside my office. 🙂


Nope, I’ll just keep baking.