Before I left for Uganda, I posted the packing list that I used on the blog.
It was very extensive and included a lot of stuff that I just didn’t really use. I mean I was just guessing on a lot of it, I had never spent a year in another country before, so I didn’t really know exactly what I would need or want.
So after spending a year abroad and evaluating my necessities, I recreated the packing list to reflect something a little more accurate. Now, depending on where you are traveling, you might not need some of the things that I needed, or you may need more or different things than I did. I spent a lot of time in skirts and dresses and I didn’t wear a ton of make-up everyday, so that reflected on my packing list. So, just use this as a launching point to create a packing list specific for you.
Download the Packing List and print it out for your own use.
I’d love to know where you are traveling and how you modified the list so that I can be better prepared for my future travels. So leave some love in the comments and let me know what your thoughts and experiences are!
So I have really been postponing writing since I have been home from Uganda. Part of it has been because I have been so busy since getting back that I haven’t had time, but the real reason is that I have felt like I don’t have anything to say. I’m not in Africa anymore. I’m not living in the village. I’m back at Starbucks making to-do lists and drinking my Thanksgiving blend coffee.
The big question that I have been asked since I have been back circles around my ability to adjust, or what some would call “culture shock”. Maybe I’m weird, but it just hasn’t happened. I have lived in America for 23 of the 24 years of my life, so I feel like being away for 12 months isn’t going to make me forget what it’s like to go through a drive-thru or have 32 cereal options. I think that I have been more aware of the cultural nuances that exist in America since coming back, but I can’t say that they have made me emotional or sent me into a state of shock. America is exactly the way I expected her to be, the way I left her.
And I’m glad to be back.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss Uganda more and more every day that I am away. I miss the people that I left behind, I miss the food that I can’t find here, I miss the walks, I miss the quiet, I miss it. But I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t feel good to have Target at my disposal again. It is so great to be able to get amazing coffee without having to get out of my car. I could cry talking about what it’s been like to see friends again and spend so much time with my family. To be completely comfortable and know that you are surrounded by people that love you and truly care for you.
My year in Uganda was amazing and I learned so much and grew in ways I didn’t expect, but it wasn’t as glamorous as some would think. There is no way that I can flesh everything out in one blog post, nor would I want to, but all I can say is that the journey is not over. Uganda is still a huge part of my life and my future. God is revealing things step by step and I am walking with anticipation to see what’s next. Major things have been laid on my heart and I am exploring areas I never thought I would tap into. But that’s how life works, right? All I know its that I have learned to be a joyful participant and embrace the unexpected.
I want to continue writing even during this time that I am not in Uganda. Just because I am no longer in Africa doesn’t mean that my life doesn’t have meaning or that I am on hold. God is still teaching me and still growing me, and I have found that writing it out and sharing it is such a wonderful way to celebrate all that he does. So I would love it if you continue on this journey with me…..we are just getting to the good part.
Eliminate Your Expectations
Food is for the Stomach…and the Heart
Time is Really Just a Number
You Won’t Be In or Out
You are Always Missing Something
Sometimes I get on Pinterest and see those inspirational travel quotes. I think you know what I’m talking about. They have the cool typography, Instagram quality picture of a road with mountains or a well-weathered map, and belong to the Wanderlust board that we all have on our profile. Travel excites. The thought of seeing a different part of the world and experiencing something life changing moves people to leave what they know and endure certain discomforts or unknowns so that they might discover something extraordinary.
Three years ago my Granny was very sick and coming to the end of her marvelous life. All of my mom’s family returned to the homestead in Murray County, Georgia and spend a week together sharing time with each other and my Granny knowing that these were our last moments of our family as we had known it for so many decades. During this week my cousins and I spent some time going through some old pictures together. My grandparents have this huge trunk in their den that is overflowing with pictures from years and years of family memories. There are enough embarrassing images in that trunk to run off all the unwanted boyfriends that have tried to steal away my cousins and I. I already have photos set aside to show the first girl that my brother brings to Christmas; it’s only then that we will truly know if she loves him or not.
While going through these gems three years ago I found a picture of my Granny when she was just a teenager standing in front of a bus headed to Miami. Once she arrived in Miami she paid $78 for an airline ticket to Cuba. I fell in love with that picture. I remember being a little girl and my Granny showing me the airline ticket and telling me about how grown up she felt going all the way to Cuba on her own and how other girls her age were too scared to do it, but not her. She wanted to see the world. It was then that I decided that my 5 foot, biscuit-making, pastor’s wife Granny was the ideal woman. She was a real pioneer; a revolutionary. I wanted to be this woman. It was that moment in her guest bedroom as a 7 or 8 year old girl that I decided I was going to travel and see the world and love it just like she did.
This new wanderlust was consuming my thoughts at all times. I would make lists of countries that I wanted to see, plan out how to see all 50 states before I was 35, save maps of places that I had never been before…I was a goner. But thankfully my Granny didn’t just inspire me to travel; she inspired me to love. Travel is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It can reveal a lot about yourself and I believe God did create this world to be admired and enjoyed. His presence is declared and revealed in creation. As I have lived here in Uganda I have seen so many beautiful things and discovered so much about myself in the process, but the real joys have come from the relationships that have been built and the people that I have come in contact with. Those are the most beautiful and complex of God’s creation. Travel the world, expand your horizons, go beyond what you know, and love people along the way. What a waste it would be to see the world and miss God’s most prized possession throughout the journey.
When I graduated college this past May I was sure that I would never want to complete another assignment as long as I lived. Five months later that doesn’t seem to be the case. I miss writing. I have always enjoyed it, and I miss going to the coffee shop and putting in my earbuds, drinking an Iced Chai with 2 shots of espresso, and writing for as long as I needed to in order to get out my thoughts and complete the assignment. So, to fill this surprising void in my life, my super talented and imaginative friend Jackie Knapp (check her out at Paper + Sky) has agreed to give me creative writing assignments while I am here in Uganda so I will have an outlet for my unusual desire to type it out. The one that she gave me first was to write about my experience in Uganda thus far using color. So, here is the first of many creative writing posts that I will be putting on here. Thank you for indulging me while I work through these post-grad dilemmas.