Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tragedy Strikes

There are moments in life when you realize with absolute certainty that everything you've been worrying about is completely insignificant. I cannot believe that yesterday I mumbled and complained to myself about all the poop I have to clean up on a regular basis.

This morning a missionary couple from outside of Mbale (that I don't know) was in a serious car accident. The mother broke both legs. The father's arm had a deep wound, it was also broken. They both required emergency surgery. The awful news is that the mother was holding their two week old baby, who was killed instantly.

This tragedy hits really close to home for me. I haven't been able to think of anything else today. All I can do is selfishly thank the Lord every moment that it wasn't me. You see, Uganda has no car seat laws. I know that this is tough to imagine, but it's very easy to become lax about using car seats. It's quite nice to catch a ride home with a friend instead of walking. Or nurse your baby in the car instead of pulling over. We've quite enjoyed it. Of course we use our car seats most of the time, but not all of the time. That's going to be different now.

I can't imagine how this fact will torture that mother. How she will think, every day for the rest of her life, "if I had taken the time to buckle our baby in, he may have lived." It would be unimaginably painful to live with this knowledge! 

And to constantly think: "our baby would be ____ age today. They would be enjoying this or that activity." I am so sad. I am so thankful. I praise Jesus that I am given the chance to clean up some poop today. I praise him that I received smiles and baby kisses today. I praise him that I sang and danced and clapped with my children today. I praise him that we watched 'Winnie the Pooh' together today. I praise him that I was given another day to do the one thing I have always wanted to do: be a mom.

Please pray for this family.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


It's been a while since I've blogged. I don't really have much to tell, so I think I'll just fill you in on our mundane happenings here in Mbale:
  • At the beginning of January Graham and I started back homeschooling strong. We had really slacked off when my friend and co-teacher Joy left. We do school for about 45-60 minutes per day including: music, calendar math, review of letters, numbers, shapes, reading bible stories, memory verses, reading of other books with comprehension questions, and art. He loves it.
  • IT IS REALLY HOT IN MBALE RIGHT NOW. I had no idea the dry season would be so....miserably hot. We have no AC (no one does) and I certainly have not adjusted to this heat yet.
  • We've been going swimming 2-3 times a week. We are very blessed to have 2 different hotels nearby where we can pay a small fee to swim. It's a great way to beat the heat. 
  • We have a really awesome new grocery store! Uchumi is a really nice South African chain of grocery stores. We often visit the one in Kampala and stock up on certain items when we're there. We're really excited to have more choices at our fingertips.
  • There's a lot of construction going on for LIU. They are right now digging two wells and fencing LIU's 56 acres. Chad has been driving out to the property almost everyday to trouble shoot. But....
  • We have a visitor! He is going to help Chad oversee these projects. He and his family (old friends of ours) are thinking and praying about moving to Mbale. His job would be to oversee construction of LIU's permanent campus. His wife will be here in about 2 weeks to visit as well. 
  • I'm still stuck in the paradox of missing my stateside friends and family but also really enjoying my new friends here in Mbale. Luckily I get to have both! Still very homesick sometimes though.
  • We are really looking forward to having Chad's mom come in March! 
  • Molly can walk, but is still crawling a lot. I'll try to get a good walking video soon.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Napping Again?

Graham stopped taking naps around this time last year, when Molly was about 2 months old. That was convenient! I tried everything I could think of to keep the naps going, but nothing worked. So we settled for "rest time." I used to make him stay in bed and look at books, but now he just plays with toys in his room quietly for an hour each day - and does a great job with it!

But over the last few weeks Graham has often fallen asleep while playing in his room. He literally falls asleep in the middle of playing, and I have gotten some great pictures. I never let him sleep for long, but I have quite enjoyed these little unexpected breaks!

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Get Involved

This probably isn't any new information for those of you know us. But I thought perhaps some of you out there who like to read about our African adventures might wonder how they can get involved. Anyways, it's a reminder! :)

1. PRAY. We believe in the power of the prayers of God's people. I try to mention some prayer requests in our newsletter each month (please let me know if you don't get our newsletter but would like to). You are also welcome to message me or Chad at any time to ask if there is anything to be praying for. It seems like often someone asks that right at a moment when we need specific prayers!

2. Donate. We have learned that there are always unexpected expenses lurking in Africa...but God always provides! And we are always super excited when God calls someone to join with us by giving once or monthly. If you decide to give, please include a note indicating that your donating to the "Chad Allen Uganda Mission." Donations can be send to:

The Hills Church of Christ
6800 NE Loop 820 
North Richland Hills, TX 76180

3. Send a note of encouragement. We are far from home and far from all things comfortable and      familiar. And we really want to keep in touch with all you and we love to hear how you're doing! Send an email, facebook message, text message, or best of all: SNAIL MAIL. Speaking of which....

4. Send a care package. I hesitate to even put this because sending packages here is expensive. But nothing brightens our day like receiving some goodies from the states! Here is our mailing address:

The Allens
P.O. Box 1790
Mbale, Uganda

Care package wish list items:
ANY kind of American snacks! Such as: crackers, cookies, nuts, etc.
Candy, especially M&Ms
Flavored coffee creamer
Quick breakfast items like granola bars or pop tarts
Baby snacks like gerber puffs
Parmesan and Velveeta cheese
Baking mixes
Quick meals like rice-a-roni or pasta sides

5. Get us an Amazon gift card. We get all our books on our kindle, and we sometimes order things that we need from the states on for a visitor bring over to us. We would always use and appreciate an amazon card!

That's about all I can think of! We sure do appreciate all the amazing support that we receive. We sometimes feel so far away but we love and appreciate you so much!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I've Changed

We've been in Uganda a little over 6 months and I have to now admit to myself that I've changed a little bit. I probably don't realize how much I've changed because I've adapted to where I live, and I'm still here. 

Please, friends and family in the US: don't think that I've changed so much that you can no longer relate to me! I'm 95% still the same girl! I can assure you, your friendship is still ultra important to me. 

But here are a few ways I've changed:

My definition of "trash" has completely changed. I cringe to think of all the things I used to throw away! My guards and/or housekeeper are more than happy to take used boxes, containers (like empty puffs containers), and ziplock baggies. I've learned to stop throwing things like this away, but I've still told Betty that she can take anything she wants out of our trash (that sounds so weird but she was happy I said that!). I never throw food away anymore unless it's actually spoiled. It's easy to find someone who wants it if we don't.

I've become more flexible. For instance, a power surge just caused my computer to shut off while I was writing this post and I lost a paragraph. I'm starting to get used to the fact that plans are often spoiled at the last minute by something totally unexpected. I don't really think I'll ever totally get used to that, but it's not as surprising as it once was.

My definition of "cheap" and "expensive" have changed. Every time I'm about to spend 10,000 shillings ($4.00) I think to myself "This is how much one of our guards makes a day, in a 12 hour shift." And we definitely pay our guards on the high end. And they work so very hard for their salary, and are very happy to receive it!!

There is no build up of clutter. Whenever a toy or an item of clothing is not being used regularly, I start to think to myself "Who can I give this to?" There's no reason for me to keep something around that we're not using when we're surrounded by people in need. I gave each of the guards a box of toys (they each have several children) at Christmas time and it felt great.

Friends become family. When your family is halfway around the world, you come to rely on your community the way you would your family. If your friend's water has been off for days, they all come over to take showers. If there is someone new, we all chip in to provide meals (meals are not as easy to come by here - no McDonalds around the corner). If there is anything to celebrate or mourn, we do it together, and return the favor later.

Change is hard. Even when it comes gradually. But I know God is changing me for the better while I am here. And even though it sometimes makes me sad, deep down, to think that I'm not the same, I really do hope that God continues to change me and make me more like him.

Monday, January 13, 2014


I'd like to share a little about the books I've enjoyed recently:

Keeping Faith by Jodi Piccoult

This book is about a little girl from a non-Christian family, named Faith, who begins to see visions of a holy being and displaying stigmata. It's about how her and her family handle the enormous media and religious attention they receive because of her visions. I really enjoyed this story. It's nice to read a secular book that raises questions about faith. It leaves you with this question in mind: "Is there a God? Maybe - go find out for yourself."

Plain Truth by Jodi Piccoult

This books is about an Amish adolescent who is accused of murdering a newborn baby who was found dead in her family's barn. Although she denies having given birth, a simple medical exam reveals that the baby is indeed hers. I love reading about the Amish. I grew up in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and we often visited the Amish country on the weekend. Their lifestyle fascinates me. This book was an interesting legal drama fills with twists and turns. I devoured it in just a few days. But I must warn that the ending left a bad taste in my mouth.

Christy by Catherine Marshall

This was a reread for me. This is an awesome book (based on a true story) about a young woman who travels deep into the Appalachian mountains to teach in a one room school house. It's a great story about learning about another culture and trying to fit yourself into it. It's also a good love story. I'm sure I'll be rereading it again someday!

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

I read this book every Christmas. You may have seen the movie "Christmas With the Kranks," which wasn't nearly as good. This is a short, easy read about a couple, who recently became empty-nesters, who decide to skip Christmas and go on a cruise. No tree, no presents, no Christmas parties, zip. Then on Christmas Eve, the day before they leave for their cruise, their daughter surprises them by returning home with her new fiancé. It's hilarious but also a touching reminder of how the quality time we spend with loved ones over the holidays is sort of worth all of the craziness.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

I've loved the movies ever since they came out years ago, and finally decided to read the books. I have enjoyed it so much! I don't know why I've never read them, they are even better than the movies. I won't bother giving you a plot summary.

Next on my reading list: The Return of the King (of course), Longbourn by Jo Baker, and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Any recommendation??

PS - I've started keeping track of my books and rating them on You should join me!


It's time to face the facts.

I have an almost 4 year old.

He needs me less and less. And while this is exactly what I want and hope for him, letting go is still hard.

He picks out his own clothes in the morning and dresses himself.

He plays in his room by himself and when I check on him he says, "Close the door mom. I'm just playing."

He wants to wash himself in the tub and brush his own teeth, but still needs some help.

He builds his very own elaborate lego towers.

He loves to make his own choices and decisions about everything. 

I'm so so so proud of him.

But as his mom, I reserve the right to be a teensy bit sad that he is getting so big.

Dear Lord, help me to train him to be more like you, and help me to let go bit by bit where I need to. Thank you for trusting me with him.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Here are some highlights from our first Christmas in Uganda:

  • Cookie exchange. For the past few years in Fort Worth I've really enjoyed going to a cookie exchange party at my friend Stephanie's house. Each person bakes and brings like 4 dozen Christmas cookies. Then everyone gets to taste each one and vote on their favorite. Stephanie always had prizes, fun games, an ornament exchange, and even dinner. I didn't go quite so all-out, but we did have a taste testing with prizes and lots of girly chatter. About 10 women came and I think it was a big hit.
  • Chad's movie/birthday party. Chad's birthday is December 17th. I wanted to do something special for his birthday, but had no gift so I decided to host a party. It was an adults-only party because we watched his favorite Christmas movie: Christmas Vacation. The cake I made was a huge flop but everyone still ate it and had a great time!
  • Community caroling and movie night at the Johnson's house. Our friends Derek and Julie work at CURE children's hospital. We have a lot in common and they are definitely becoming good friends of ours. They invited the entire missional community to sing Christmas carols and watch Elf in their yard one night. We watched the movie by projector. Julie let me put Molly to bed in their house, allowing us to stay for the whole movie! Elf was the first live-action movie Graham has seen.

Graham and his friend Silas

Molly is checking out Baby Nathan's mosquito tent.
  • Christmas crafts with the Robinsons. My friend Jill is so creative. She made the cutest advent calendar for her kids this year. Each day had a fun Christmas activity for her kids (I plan on copying her idea next year!). We got to join in a few of their activities: we made gingerbread cookies, toilet paper roll Santas, and got "elfed." Graham and Molly sure do love hanging out with their friends John Mark and Riley.
  • Christmas Eve at the Hornes. Our friends Matt and Kayla invited us over for Christmas Eve Dinner. Of course we had a great time!
Molly and her peeps Nathan and Julia

Graham and his friend Micah watched a movie.
  • Christmas morning craziness. It is customary here in Uganda to go to church on Christmas Day. All Christians do, and our church was packed! But it was not easy to open presents, play a bit, eat breakfast, get ready for church and get there by 10:00. We were 30 minutes late to an hour long service....oops! The "Christmas tree" at church was hilarious. I wanted to get a picture, but all the kids destroyed it as soon as church was over. It was a small regular tree set up in the front of church in a tire. It was covered in balloons and Christmas lights. The Ugandans sure do love tacky decorations (or what I would call tacky, at least!).

  • Surviving without Betty. I gave my housekeeper a week off. Trying to keep up with all the dishes, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and DISHES on my own made me appreciate her all over again. How could I get by without her and keep my sanity??
  • Simplify. I missed a lot of things about Christmas in the US, but the crazy shopping and gift-giving was not one of them. The only presents we had were the ones our parents and my brother had sent. We gave the kids a play kitchen that I had bought on consignment and put on our container. The scaled down gift-giving felt great. 
What was special about your Christmas this year?