Saturday, September 16, 2023


After eleven and a half years, its time for me to go. I'm leaving my organization - in fact, Monday is my last day. I'm tired and I'm grateful. Things were not perfect, but no organization is. 
Family visit, Uganda

I could stay. In fact, there are plenty who would like me to stay. But its time. Change is hard, but it's needed. I believe I've done all I want to do in this organization, and its time for me to try my hand elsewhere. If I'm most honest, I feel used up and beat up by a relentless pace I've given absolutely everything to try to keep up with.  

I'm going to another NGO, this one focused on work with refugees around the world. I'll still be working in safeguarding, working to protect vulnerable people from abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

I've had some amazing experiences in this  organization. I've travelled to work in 26 (I think?) countries, many multiple times. I've met amazing people, seen things that have broken my heart over and over, laughed until I couldn't breathe, sobbed until I couldn't see, learned, grew and loved. 
Tough family visit along the Thai-Myanmar border
I've held hands with children and adults, had impromptu salon sessions from tiny people who couldn't get enough of my very-different-hair, been cried on, scared small people who couldn't understand why I looked the way I do, colored, made necklaces, played soccer, volleyball and liga-liga, sat in homes, drank endless cups of tea, listened to stories, watched dramas and dances, prayed, preached, trained, facilitated, walked through neighborhoods, slogged up hills, waded through sewage, and ridden in about every form of transportation on wheels, wings or rudders. 

I wore the same three outfits everywhere I went (did you notice a theme in my wardrobe in my last post?) I've been given incredibly generous gifts by people who insisted on hospitality, some of the most memorable including 18 eggs, a hand woven basket, a bag of groundnuts, and a moment where I thought someone was giving me a pair of goats (and fortunately, I was wrong). 
Shaby and I, Sri Lanka

I've seen incredible darkness and met people who bring incredible light. The people are the hardest part of leaving - I truly love my colleagues and have the highest respect for them. I struggle with leaving the team I lead - we've built a close and trusting working relationship, and walking away from that feels like I am abandoning the trenches. I fear I'm giving up, stopping away before the work is finished. I feel some guilt.

I am seeking new learning, new opportunities, new challenges. I'm chasing better balance. I'm hoping I can do "it" again. I worry about being an imposter. 

Regardless, its going to be a new adventure.

Let's go. 

Talking with Samson, Ghana
Esther and I, Togo

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Nearly Two Years In Between

Welcome back. It's been a while, hasn't it?

Its been nearly two years since I put down my blog, and much has transpired in the interim. My grandmother's death made me angry - so angry I couldn't write for a while. My relationship with my grandmother was complicated, which, now that we are finally having a memorial service for her, makes writing a eulogy a challenge. Regardless of our relationship however, her death - even at 97- was preventable. It didn't have to be that way, and that anger took a while to deal with.

I also had months of work stress where I cried every day. 

Eric joined the volunteer fire department in January, 2022. I joined the fire department board that fall and the next January, Eric got EMT licensure.

And then in April, 2022, I started travelling again. I masked up, got my hand sanitizer at the ready, wiped down every conceivable surface, and entered a period of time where I was tested for Covid weekly for months, to meet the various requirements of the multiple countries I was entering and leaving. I went to Malawi, the UK, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, between April and December.

Sagrada Familia, Spain
There was also other family stuff that went on, some good, including a cruise with my mom to Spain and Portugal, with a brief sojourn into France and a drop off in the UK, where I extended my time and met with the office in London for the first time in two years.

My work schedule got even more intense, and I scrambled between clinics and airports and inboxes overflowing and weeks where what was supposed to be a 40 hour week included 35 hours of meetings, each one with assignments and due dates and writing that had to happen outside that meeting time. 

We went camping in Glacier National Park with some of our closest friends. 

I deferred all my races in 2022. 

Eric and I camped in Iceland, chasing Northern Lights and sleeping on an active volcano during a last minute long weekend trip over Labor Day. 

Glacier National Park

I got more vaccinations for Covid and everything else. At some point the travel health clinic said "well, there's not much more we can poke you with."

I flew from Rwanda to Germany in December, met Eric and took the train to Berlin to see my sister and her family, who are living there now. We then flew to Greece and toured around for our 20th anniversary. 

We came home to a plan that included not decorating for Christmas and driving right to Michigan for the holiday with my parents. We got turned around by a huge blizzard and ended up staying at home for the holiday, chopping down a tree in the forest, Griswold-style, just a couple days before the holiday and throwing up some decorations. 

We spent New Years' - our actual anniversary - at home and I fell asleep on the couch at 10pm. 

Nairobi National Park

I started travelling at the end of January, and between February and June, had work trips to the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Colombia, Uganda, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Togo and Ghana. 

In between trips, we took a long weekend and camped at the Grand Canyon. 

I did not blog. I could have - there are stories in each of those trip and photos and things I've since forgotten.

We'll see if I actually start again. Here are some random photos from the last two years.

Outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

Grand Canyon

Transit by truckbed, along the Thai-Myanmar border

Campervan Northern Lights Setup, Iceland

Sunset, Iceland

Sunrise run, Dominican Republic

Speaking at the opening of an
abuse reporting center, Thailand

Speaking at Day of the African
Child, Lome Togo

Classroom visit, Accra Ghana

Home visit and terrified children, rural Malawi

Sri Lanka

Meeting new friends, Sri Lanka

Ancient Corinth, Greece

Fire Department

Hiking with friends, Glacier

Learning to cook Thai food

Friends who go way back, Uganda

Fellow managers, Bogota Colombia