One of the favorite people we met in Uganda was our driver, Isma.  He has so much light in his face, and it was fun to see where all that light came from when he took us one day to meet his mother and family.  He and Emma set up a morning to let us join them for their daily tasks and routines.  His mother gave us the hugest hugs and put us all to work.  We split up: Max, Abby and Claire went to work in the garden (sounded easy but it was the toughest task), Elle and Grace stayed put to clean, do laundry and do dishes.  Dave, Lu and I went to collect water, something I’ve been so interested in since reading Thirst, (a book I talked about back HERE) written by the guy who started “Charity Water,” a non-profit dedicated to getting clean water to as many villages in Africa as possible.

I loved how welcoming the local people were at the water pump, teaching us how to line up our water jugs and fill them one by one.

This water pump was close to Isma’s family’s home, but so many have to walk for miles to the water source or use dirty, insect-infested still water that causes so many health issues.  

We arrived back to find Elle and Grace sweeping the dirt outside one of the little clay-built homes under the instruction of one of the “women of light” as I think describes them well.

(what good sweepers they are 😉

Isma’s wife had Elle wash the dishes…

…and Grace got to work on washing a pile of clothes in two small buckets…Emma helping with instruction along with Isma’s wife…

…soap bubbling up so high we had a tough time, all three of us rinsing at the end!

We all helped hang them as we got to ask Emma and this family so many questions.  We learned so much!

By this time the crew working in the garden still wasn’t back so we took Elle and Grace with us to haul back some more water.

Max, Abby and Claire came back with big smiles long after the rest of us were done, feet caked with mud and carrying huge bundles of roots and beans they had harvested on their backs and heads:

(This is how Abby’s feet looked when they got back:)


They spilled out a wealth of information Isma’s mother (who is tiny but who they admitted was ten times stronger than they were!) and another helper had filled them in with:  so much about daily life in the villages, the roles of mothers and fathers, traditional teenage circumcision, how the boys move out of their homes to the compound and build their own houses when they’re circumcised, differences between tribes.

Just for a visual of Isma’s mother who we loved, this is what she looks like:

She’s someone I wish everyone could meet.

Isma’s wife showed us how to make chapati (local native fried bread) from start to finish, cooking some up for us in her smoke-filled little kitchen hut while we shelled the beans the kids brought from the garden.

Love that Abby always somehow found a baby to hold.  Love her.

We left with big hugs all around and grateful hearts for the kindness and light of those good new friends.

It is tough to move eight people around (we were so grateful for Emma!) And we sure had a LOT of driving in our van! 

(Elle’s behind Max and this is a different day but you get the idea…)

And we were grateful this day to be maneuvered as we wound through the bumpy streets up to the top of the highest threshold looking out on the valley.  I was so happy we got to experience yet this other aspect of Uganda (we sure all fell in love with that place!).  The views were so green and breathtaking. Not sure what I’m doing in this pic, but can you make out that view behind us?  Wish I had a better pic of that…

When we stopped to take in the view of the waterfall we were there to rappel I got a little terrified…320 feet high with some people like little specks near the edge.

See that beauty back there behind us??

It’s called Sipi Falls and it gained a giant spot in our hearts that day!

There is actually no good way to describe our trepidation and exhilaration as we went down that thing, one by one.  So much beauty all mixed in with jumping nerves and the hugest celebrations when each of us reached the bottom.

Max went first, that brave soul!

Here he is hovering at the top of his descent, with nothing but a single rope to hold him from crashing down on those rocks so far below:

Here he is from below…you’re gonna have to look close to spot his teeny tiny red shirt against that cliff:

If you know how big that kid is (6’7″) you can guess the magnitude of that puppy he was coming down!

All safe and sound:

Abby decided she may as well go next to join him…and get over all the peer pressure at the top of the cliff.  Ha!

You’d never know how freaked out we all were from the looks of these pictures!

Elle was next…not so freaked out:

Love that enthusiasm!

 On to Grace…who was loving it all…

Can you spot her?
Woo Hoo!

 This is the face Claire had at the top of that cliff the whole time:

She was dying.

Oh should she do it??

Should she not?

Would she regret it if she didn’t?

Yes, she finally decided, she would.

So she did it, at first almost scared her pants off:

But quickly she decided hey, this isn’t half so bad.

 “Twenty seconds of courage” right? 🙂

She gave me the courage to go next. Can you see me holding onto our friend Peter for dear life??

All the while Lucy was helping Dave to dare to join the trend.  At least that’s what Dave claimed she was doing.  Love this little duo there on the mountain-top:

(Lu always with her backpack in case she needs to whip out anything from cards to her journal):
Luckily she was able to talk Dave into coming along:
No picture, no excited poses or crazy smiles will be able to do the exhilaration of that afternoon justice, but here’s a weak try:

Lucy stuck with Emma and was such a good sport waiting for us as we took the most gorgeous hike through a little muddy path and lush green back up to the top, the rappelling guys holding our hands to help pull us up in the tough parts, all of us out of breath and smiling from ear to ear at all that gorgeousness and adventure:

Reunion with Lu:

 …and Emma:

We sure like him!  Miss you Emma!

Lucy’s happy place every night was cards on the roof.

One night there was a portion of a rainbow lighting up the sky:

And do you know what?  It was the first rainbow Lucy could ever see.

Normally there isn’t enough contrast for her to make out where a rainbow is but that night, up playing cards before dinner on the roof, she saw that rainbow.

We were all pretty excited about that.

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  1. Ah my most favourite part of your post “Lucy saw that rainbow” It may be the only rainbow she’ll ever see. Another reason being in the right place at the right time.

    1. The main games we play are "Lucky Unders" and "scum" which I think you can google how to play.
      But our most recent favorite is one that Lar taught the girls and I don't know the name so that doesn't help much! I'll have to ask.

  2. Beautiful! And I want to hear more about Grace's Purdue shirt? From a Purdue alum. Please don't tell me it was a "Goodwill find" 😉

  3. Oh man…I would NOT have been brave enough to do that waterfall! Absolutely beautiful and I am so grateful for Lucy that she was able to see all of this. How wonderful for her that she will be able to have such beautiful memories.

  4. This: “ Lucy saw that rainbow.” Can’t top that, very moving words mama! Also…ALL were brave as heck jumping off that waterfall. Yikes! 👍🏼

  5. It was great that Lucy got to see the rainbow, a special memory that all of you will always remember.

    I really admire all of you for jumping off the waterfall. You were so brave. I couldn't have done it. I'm not brave enough:)

  6. If you travelled to Italy and were brought by a guide to a working farm to be lead through a half day of picking fruit, curing olives, pizza making, and learning about local customs, how much would you expect to pay for the experience? At least $100 per person, right? Would you describe it as performing service to the farm? I hope you compensated everyone involved in this day equally fairly.

  7. If I was the parent of the baby Abby was holding, I wouldn’t be too happy with my child’s naked but being published on a stranger’s blog.

  8. I would like to know more about the boxes you have in your home for display. Where did you get them? Would like some of them for treasures as well. Love reading about you and your family

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