This morning Anna and I drove to Jacksonville, NC to a passport office to turn in our paperwork for our passports for our TRIP TO UGANDA!! I had all the paperwork ready and we arrived 15 minutes early and ended up spending some time talking about our trip and getting really excited. Once in there, the lady quickly told me that both the mother and father had to be there to get a passport for a child under 16! WHAT??? Wait, of course, that makes sense. Why didn’t I notice that before? I was stressed. The office is only open between 8:30 and 1, so I would have to take her out of school again. And now we had to figure out Dan coming along as well, or getting some paperwork notarized. Ugh! My eye began to twitch as I stressed about not reading the paperwork more carefully the first time!
It wasn’t until about 30 minutes into the trip back to school that I realized I was making the pre-trip bits be a negative instead of a positive! Sure, the actual time in Uganda will be the pinnacle of our trip, but we should be savoring and pulling value from every part of this incredible opportunity!!! That is when I decided that I would change my approach and mine value out of each and every part of the process (or at least really try to).
The first order of business…the passport! I plan on spending some time researching passports and talking with Anna and Leo (my 11 year old daughter and 7 year old son) about borders and passports and how they are used for international travel. Additionally, the kids have a day off next Monday, so we made an appointment to go back to the passport office during that day off so she doesn’t have to miss more school. (win/win)
Some of the other daunting pre-travel tasks that are on my mind right now include vaccinations, fundraising, and educating ourselves. Thanks to the CDC, there is a lot of information on what types of vaccines and other precautions we need to take when traveling in Africa, and specifically Uganda. I am not too worried about this and I know that Anna and I will both be able to see how the benefit of being protected far outweighs the needlesticks and the daily antimalarial meds.
Fundraising is tough. It is really hard to ask people for help in general, let alone asking for money. But we do it because without additional funds, the trip is just not possible. And truly, you can Be The Change without being on the trip. It takes all kinds of support—financial, emotional, prayer, donation of materials—for this trip to reach its potential. So how do we find value in fundraising? We jump in with vigor and show appreciation and we don’t shy away from asking for help!
And finally educating ourselves. This one goes hand in hand with fundraising, as we are sharing the knowledge that we gain and will also share the experience when we get back. It is far too powerful an experience to keep to ourselves, that is sure. One thing that we are learning a lot about is HIV/AIDS. Specifically we are partnering with Project Hopeful, an organization dedicated to educating, encouraging, and enabling families adopting children with HIV/AIDS. I have so much to learn about this effort, but I embrace it with open arms and see the opportunity to learn and share truth.
Sure, I still have a countdown widget on my phone and my laptop that reminds me daily how many days until we leave for Uganda (93, by the way). But with this change in focus, I have a feeling there will be goals reached on a weekly or even daily basis…valuable goals that are critical to this Uganda trip. I will work to savor the process, as it can only increase the value of the experience for all involved.
Deep breath out. I do believe writing this blog has been a valuable experience. See…it is working already.
Monica (& Anna too!)