Belgrade, Serbia

During our time in Kosovo, the organizers of the conference we attended made arrangements for our group to travel to Serbia for a day.  We boarded a small bus and drove around through Macedonia, avoiding the Kosovo-Serbia border, knowing the Serbs would not let us in from Kosovo.  Still, we were refused entry into Serbia at first, but we were lucky to have a Serbian friend who had arranged some important meetings for our group and talked the border guards into letting us through.

We arrived in Belgrade just before the sun set and we whisked off to a tour of the Church of Saint Sava.  We were privileged to have a tour of the crypt, which is not open to the public and whose walls are adorned lavishly in hand-painted frescos and 24-carat gold.

The next morning was blur of inspirational meetings.  We started with the Deputy Speaker of Parliament - a man with a clear passion for his country and for reconciliation, then we met Vuc Drašković - a peacemaker, revolutionary, and an author who is referred to as "the Nelson Mandela of Serbia.  I really enjoyed our time with him and felt so honored to hear some thoughts from a man with much wisdom.  Lastly, we visited the Royal Palace of Serbia and met Her Royal Highness Princess Catherine of Serbia who works tirelessly in several philanthropic causes, particularly for children, along with her husband, the Royal Prince.

We re-boarded the bus less than 24 hours after our arrival in Belgrade to head back to Kosovo with our heads spinning from the experiences packed into such a short period of time.


After our time in Albania, we drove over the border to visit the newest European country, Kosovo, and attend an International Leadership Gathering with people from over 100 countries.  There was so much for me to learn about this part of the world.  I had never been to The Balkans and had never taken time to learn much about the Serbia-Kosovo conflict, so it was an opportunity to hear about both the conflict and the healing that this region has gone through in the last few decades.  We heard from several political leaders, met normal citizens who had been affected by the conflict, and visited several different religious, historical, and tourist sites around Kosovo to learn more.

We had the chance to visit Ulpiana, a site currently undergoing an archaeological dig, Gracanica Monastery, which was built in the 14th century, and some beautifully decorated mosques in the capitol, Prishtina; but my favorite visit was to the small and charming town of Prizren, where we were only able to spend about an hour as the sun set. 

Ohrid, Macedonia

During our short time in Pogredec, Albania, our generous hosts, Nehemiah Gateway, took us for a day trip across the border to Ohrid, Macedonia.  This charming town sits right on Lake Ohrid, a beautiful clear lake in between the two countries.  On our day trip, we strolled around the town, visited a 4th century fortress, and stopped by Naum Monastery on the way back to Pogredec.  The monastery was my favorite stop - a peaceful place nestled into the mountains, looking out onto the blue water, and peacocks adorning its corners and nooks.


Last month, Eric, Leo and I flew to the Balkans where we spent almost 2 weeks in 4 different countries.  Our first stop was Albania, where some of the alumni from our school in Uganda attends university.  We surprised these students with a visit and learned much more about Nehemiah Gateway - the organization running their university.  We spent only a few days in the country, but NG hosted us well and showed us around Pogredec - a town on Lake Ohrid in the east of the country.

Driving through the expansive mountains of Albania was a treat and I wanted to stop around every turn and photograph the cottages, the farmers, and the places of worship tucked into the green hills.  There were eye-catching poppies dotting the fields the whole way and other flowers bursting out of apartment windows and front porches.  We were only afforded a glimpse of Albania, but it's clear there is much more to appreciate in this small country and I would, in a heartbeat, take a chance to return.

Getting over busy-ness

In January, Eric and I looked at our calendar for the year ahead, which was already filled out month-by-month.  I asked him if he had any goals or resolutions for 2016 and, in all seriousness, he said his goal was to survive - just get through it.  It would be a busy one, we knew that.  But at second glance, we looked at all those things penned into the year and realized that each one reflects a little bit of who we are at our depths or gives us an opportunity to grow into the people we want to become.  Our life is full, but it is full of great people, great opportunities, and great work. 

Even so, life requires balance.  Too much of a good thing, I have learned, can still tip my sanity in the wrong direction and right now I crave a literal and figurative coming home.  We are just now recovering from the busiest season of a busy year.  To be clear, I'm not a fan of busy.  Uganda has won me over with the slower pace of life, and I am, very gradually, shedding the American cultural obsession with busy-ness.

In May, we returned from our trip to the states and had a lot waiting for us on this side of the world.  Here is a snapshot into what we've been up to in the last month and a half:

-- We met an Indian mystic during his trip to Uganda.  We were privileged to snag a front-row seat and be in the presence of Sadhguru during a small gathering at the Indian embassy.

-- We traveled to Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia while visiting some of our students who are attending university in Albania and attending an International Leadership Gathering with people from over 40 countries.  More on that to come, but here are some sneak-peak photos:

-- I hosted 3 baby blessingways for dear friends and mothers-to-be.  I just love this ceremony and it feels more sacred and special each time.

-- A team of colleagues and I managed to pull off a conference for over 200 people, mostly from around Africa, who are involved in mentoring work and who, despite coming from diverse religious backgrounds, love, admire, and strive to live by the teachings of Jesus.

-- We spent a weekend in Jinja to celebrate our anniversary and partake in some much-needed relaxation and doing NOTHING.

Now, I crave rhythm.  I want predictability and I desire to stay in one place long enough to deepen my soul roots.  I yearn for long stretches of time alone and with those closest to me.  And so I will soak all of this in for the next few weeks, but 2016 is not yet over.  Next month, I'll head to the states once again for a couple of weeks where I will begin a 2-year program at The Living School and then road trip with my parents across the Southwest to attend my cousin's wedding.  So there is more on the horizon, but for now I am here.

Stay tuned for more pictures of our trip to the Balkans!