While planning my trip to Uganda, I was happy to have the opportunity to book my first night’s stay near the airport in an Airbnb hosted by the AidChild Leadership Institute. AidChild is an organization that I first connected with back in 2007 while working on a documentary project in Uganda. I’ve been impressed by their focused vision on the pursuit of an HIV-free generation and the innovative ways that they have cared for children along the way.
The AidChild Leadership Institute is a wellness and academic support program for the students who have been ARV-recipients and are nearing adulthood. The older students are referred to as interns and the younger ones are called novices. Their life together is orchestrated in a way that provides them with care, support, education and growth in character.
I’ve just embarked upon my fourth trip to East Africa and consider it a privilege to revisit one of my favorite regions on earth. I was invited to join a team from Bethel Seminary and to speak on leadership at two conferences in Northwestern Uganda.
Managing to book my flight over with an 8 hour layover in Addis Ababa I decided to look into my options for seeing the city. I learned that with a layover of less than 12 hours, one could purchase a hotel pass for $50 which would include a shuttle to the hotel, a meal, a place to rest and a shuttle back in time to catch my flight. All of this along with the opportunity to explore a city that I had never visited was too good to be true!
What would you like to do for your birthday? she asked. I had no idea at the time how complex this question was. Throwing out a number of ideas, some realistic and some silly, she casually included learning to fly. It didn’t begin to occur to me that learning to fly was a serious suggestion.
A few months later Bethany mentioned that she had purchased a surprise excursion that we had to use before the middle of May. When I finally discovered what we were doing I asked why we didn’t do so over my birthday like she had originally intended. “When I asked if you wanted to learn to fly you didn’t answer,” she replied.
Bethany had purchased a flight over LA from Justice Aviation in which we would both have a chance to take off, land and maneuver the plane in the air, under the supervision of a pilot. Bethany took her turn first, taking off from Santa Monica and flying along the coast of Malibu. The views were breathtaking and I sat in the back capturing photos and videos of the experience.
After landing, we switched places and I helped fly the plane over Los Angeles, by the Hollywood sign and around downtown. It was an exhilarating experience to adjust the controls on the plane and to feel it respond. The pilot was engaging and loved to fly. What an amazing way to explore the city that we would move to only six months later!
While preparing for my last trip to East Africa, I reached out for advice from a man who cares for orphaned children living with AIDS in Uganda. Taking advantage of the time that he was living in San Diego while pursuing a Ph.D., we met up to discuss the water project that I was embarking upon in Kenya. After talking through a variety of approaches to the project, I will never forget the advice that he left me with. “Just do something.”
I’ve spent much of the past several years trying to figure out why it takes me so long to get anything done. The objectives that matter most to me always seem to be stuck in a holding pattern. I’m starting to realize that these indefinite holds have much to do with misunderstanding the relationship between clarity and courage.
I remember the day when I pulled a magazine off the shelf at Barnes and Noble and started reading an article about how to start a blog. It described the basics steps involved in joining Blogspot and creating your first post. I was living in Homer, Alaska at the time as part of a two week visit that turned into a year-long stay.
Homer is a town of about five thousand people and nicknamed “The End of the Road” because it is the farthest western town connected by road to the rest of North America. Visiting Anchorage, a four-hour drive away, gave us a chance to catch up on what we had missed at the end of the road and the biggest bookstore around was always a must-visit.
Someone once told me that the older you get the faster time goes by. Every passing year seems to make this statement truer than ever. We often try to figure out how long ago something occurred and realizing that it was longer ago than we thought, we say, “Wow! Time flies, huh?”
The speed of time can often make us feel that our lives are out of our own control. Life doesn’t seem to slow down long enough to let us exert intention and control over how we spend our time. This makes the future come so quick that we don’t formulate a plan in time to handle it. It also makes the past seem so distant that we fail to reflect upon what has happened to us. Both planning and reflecting require intentional effort.
A few years ago my family came up with a bizarre idea for a New Years tradition. Each year one of us chooses a subject, we all build it out of Popsicle sticks and then burn it to the ground at midnight. The first few years we built the Eiffel Tower, a hot air balloon and a Trojan horse large enough for a child to sit on its back.
This year it was my turn to decide what we would build so I chose an old ship modeled after the Santa Maria. At first I worried that it would be too complicated but I shouldn’t have doubted my family’s creative talent.
Back in the mid-90s, there was a band called East to West that sang a song that said, “I want to live like I’m leaving.” The idea in these lyrics has never left me. How different would our lives be if we lived as though we were leaving? Although the song referenced leaving this life for eternity, I have been thinking about living like I’m leaving the places that I take for granted now.
The reality is that we are leaving. We’re leaving jobs, cities, friends, family and eventually this life. Wherever we are in our lives, it is only a matter of time before we will leave. We often act as though we have all the time in the world to enjoy places, try new adventures and express our love for the people in our lives. Living like we’re leaving means making the most of the time that we have wherever we are at in life.
During our last trip to Kenya at the end of 2012, we set out to find products in Nairobi’s markets that would interest people back home. Most of the souvenirs that you find would be interesting primarily to tourists who’ve visited the region. Our hope was to find products that people would buy because they wanted them, rather than just because they wanted to help our cause.
With the help of some local advice and Rebekah’s excellent taste, we found tea, bracelets, handmade bags and fabric to make additional products. We nearly sold out of everything at our first event, the Flood Church Christmas Shoppe in 2012. This year a friend traveled back to Kenya and brought us two boxes of goods.
Our products received another great response at this year’s Christmas Collective. We made sure to have more than we needed this year so that we could post the rest of our products online. Today we are excited to launch our new Yadumu Project Online Shop. 100% of the profits from our products will go toward the water project in Rakwaro, Kenya. We also have a new donate page so if you want to contribute but aren’t interested in purchasing any products, you can donate here.
Our products are a combination of items that we found in Kenya and collaborations with businesses that we admire like A Well Traveled Brand, Fait la Force, Leaf & Kettle and Coffee & Tea Collective. We hope you find something that you love. Thank you for supporting our efforts to bring clean water to Rakwaro!
Visit Our Online Shop
How does a person leave the closest place to paradise that they’ve ever experienced? This is the question I have been pondering. One of my most useful discoveries has been that if you want to find a great place to live, listen to how the people who live there talk about it. There’s a reason why people love to live in certain areas of the country. Sure, there are contented people everywhere who appreciate their community because it is home. When an area gains a widespread reputation as an exceptional place to live, it is the acclaim of the locals, not their contentment, that spreads the word.
I heard about how wonderful San Diego was long before I had traveled west of Colorado. In the Summer of 2004, I packed up my red Toyota Celica convertible and told my sister, who I brought along for the journey, that I was looking for a place out west near the mountains and the ocean. I had grown restless in Minneapolis and realized that there was no reason for me to limit my possibilities to the midwest.