My summer in America was a whirlwind of an adventure full of intense, deep connecting- met with emotional, heart wrenching goodbyes. I still haven’t completely caught my breath! Ya, girl did.the.most. I traveled to/through 8 states in less than 2 months, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia, Nevada and California.
To some extent the journey back to America felt very familiar. My body easily readjusted to the cultural norms, and I was at ease in ways i’d missed while living in Africa. I didn’t come through with tons of money, and did not work this summer, so I relied heavily on the generosity of loved ones who without a doubt #cameThruuuuu!
I am grateful to have experienced crazy favor & more genuine love than I can begin to put into words! (Plus nobody has time to read all those details lol). They say a picture is worth a thousand words, soooo here ya go! Check out my Summer 19 highlights below :)
On May 30th I jumped on an airplane, kissed Uganda goodbye and set out for a 25+ hour journey from Kampala, Uganda to Los Angeles, California.
The main motivation was my desire to be present with my RURO family at the Annual Gala. I heard God in my heart confirm that I needed to be present with Alex, Shunna, Layla and Caleb The Healed One- especially with his recent bone cancer diagnosis. It warmed my heart to spend time with the Jones-Moreno family, and I even got to make a little bit of art with Caleb at the hospital. He and his family’s decision to choose joy and remain steadfast in faith is so admirable! Caleb, is indeed healed in Jesus' name!
While in CA I also got to reconnect with special friends, went to my little cousin’s middle school graduation, ate lots of Veggie Grill and even basked in the sun at my happy place- the beach!
In Portland I hung-out with my sister Joy and brother-in-law Rob. Joy hosted an epic brunch upon my arrival, and I got to meet the numerous friends and colleagues who have been blessed by Joy’s smile and impact in her city! I was super proud of how she’s seriously so embedded in the justice work in Portland. The way she uses her strategic planning, passion for inclusion and artistic eye to elevate the black experience is nothing less than pure excellent! After Portland, I spent a brief moment in Nevada before making my way to the midwest!
My favorite part of being in Cincinnati was babysitting my little niece Lizzy! She’s almost 2 years old and is such a doll. My mom took me to her job for some mother-daughter "show and tell"! It was cool to see her be a real life #boss! While in town I also got to join in on my cousin Ysabel's bachlorette festivities, I binge watched lots of Grey's Anatomy & celebrated my dad's 57th birthday with family!
Another highlight was visiting the 500 foot replica of Noah’s Ark with Hope and my mom in Kentucky! This massive exhibit was an unforgettable experience. At the start of July we took a road trip to visit my TN family! I made memories with my now grown-up cousins as we watched firecrackers fill the sky on the 4th. One morning Grams and I watched the sunrise while sipping coffee on her peaceful front porch. I also took to heart some invaluable wisdom about life & love from her, dear Aunt Teresa, Aunt Bubbles, Aunt Karen, and my Mommy!
The majority of time on the East Coast was spent at a Historically Black College participating in a 2 week summer camp for teen girls from single parent households. My friend Robyn started Girls Interrupted Organization and invited me to not only be a board member, but to facilitate the first annual camp with her and other phenomenal black women! Being a camp enthusiast, I quickly said “heck yea, i'm down!”. I spent my 32nd birthday with these adorable teens, and celebrated at a rooftop lounge in Washington D.C with the grown folks!
I ended my Summer in America back where I started, in California. I got to meet the wonderful Reach Up Reach Out team members who would soon join me in Uganda for a 10 day missions trip. I also said “see you later” to some incredibly significant people in my life. On July 26th I boarded a plane and took the 25+ hour journey back to Africa.
5 hours after I landed in Kampala, I took a 6 hour bus ride with the 2019 Summer RURO Missions team where we volunteered with the sweet children and women in Tororo, Uganda!
This 10 day journey was super worth it. As usual, I met some wonderful bighearted folks from CA. We shared love & hugs with the hundreds of orphaned children at the Arts Camp. My absolute favorite part of camp is watching the children get creatively messy with paint and other wonderful craft supplies! :) It's also awesome to celebrate the graduating Sisterhood widows.
So here I am, back in Kampala in my second year of teaching. I currently have a small class of 4 year old cuties from all over the world. I feel way more prepared as a teacher and more culturally competent as a guest in Uganda.
It feels like pieces of Melody are sprinkled throughout the globe. Half of my heart is in America and the other half here in Africa. Both places house different meaningful parts of my life. This year in Uganda I have already seen God's loving hand, and have been blessed with new amazing friends who are like family. I already feel way more connected. I guess for now Kampala is "home". Stay tuned for a second year of East African Adventures!!
As always, thank you to everyone who supported me emotionally and financially this Summer! May God bless you richly!