Happy 2016!

Our holiday “letter” blog is late this year, but better late than never!  Here are some highlights from 2015:

The biggest highlight of 2015 was definitely welcoming Joel Edmund Muigai to our family!  He was born in Kenya on April 16 and has been a happy and healthy little guy.  Despite a chaotic first few weeks (months?) of adjusting to having 3 children, we have now settled into a routine and Joel is a much adored member of the family by everyone.  My favorite part of having three children is seeing how Joel’s face lights up when he sees Natalie and Nathan and how easily the two of them can make him laugh.  Joel is now almost 9 months old, crawling and getting into everything, clapping, standing, and already taking steps – he desperately wants to keep up with big sister and brother!

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Our first picture as a family of five!

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Our happy little Joel

Since we had to travel at least 4 weeks before my due date, we were able to spend about 6 weeks in Nairobi.  It was a really nice time to be with family and friends, and we stayed at a guesthouse at NEGST where I went to school so we were able to reconnect with a lot of old friends.    Since both Natalie and Nathan were born in the US, it was nice to be able to welcome Joel into the world surrounded by Kenyan family and friends.

In March we took a family vacation in Zanzibar before our scheduled MCC meetings.  We spent a few days relaxing on the beaches and had a great time swimming, snorkeling, and going on boat rides.

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Swimming in the ocean at Zanzibar

In July and August we spent 6 weeks in the US, which is always a highlight!  It was great to introduce Joel to his American family, and it was restful to have a lot of extra hands to hold the baby and keep the older two entertained.  We had a great time with American family and friends and our time included lots of laughter, good conversations, swimming, amusement parts, too much ice cream (is there even such a thing??), water parks, Joel’s baptism, bikes rides, and more!

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With our American family in the US

Our work with MCC Uganda went very well during 2015.  We have a great team of Ugandan staff that we work with and some really cool volunteers that come through the program.  One of the highlights was our end of year retreat with MCC Uganda and MCC South Sudan teams at Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Another highlight of our work was expanding our work to work more with partners who are involved in water and agriculture projects, and expanding our work in the Northeast corner of Uganda (Karamoja region).  It’s hard to believe we have already been here for more than 3 ½ years, and we only have a little over a year left on our contract!

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Eating ice cream with Revi, an awesome volunteer from Indonesia who worked with MCC in Uganda for one year.

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Muigai, Daniel, and Vicky (MCC Uganda staff), looking official and distributing items to Burundian refugees at a refugee camp in Western Uganda

Our diaper project Kijani continued to grow – highlights include being featured on the local evening news in September, and opening a small shop in December!  Our major motivation for starting this project was to create jobs, and we are excited that we now are able to provide a good income to five different women who are involved in making and selling our diapers and other baby products.

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Celebrating the sale of our 1000th diaper!

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Our new shop, the first ever cloth diaper shop in Uganda!

Natalie finished first grade and started second grade at Acorns International School (they do not have Kindergarten here so their second grade is equivalent to US first grade).  She is having a great year at school so far and the highlight of 2015 for her was having a birthday party with her friends from school.  We rented a giant water slide bouncing castle and the girls had a great time laughing and playing together.

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Celebrating her birthday with friends from school

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The giant water slide bouncy castle – even I got to play!!

Nathan is in his second year of preschool at Kampala Community International Preschool.   He has taken some time to warm up to school but at least these days we can drop him off most mornings without any tears.  He is always singing and dancing around the house with songs he is learning at school, and he also loves football (soccer) and was able to play in a weekly youth soccer league at the end of 2015.

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Cool guy on the way to school

We are grateful for a good community of friends in Kampala and are generally enjoying life in Uganda.   We had a quiet Christmas in Kampala and spent the day swimming with Mongolian food for dinner – not the typical Christmas of my childhood but fun nonetheless!  We still did plenty of Christmas traditions like decorate a Christmas tree, open stockings and presents on Christmas morning, make Christmas cookies, and watch Christmas movies.

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Swimming and Mongolian buffet on Christmas day

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Making spritz, a Christmas tradition that has been in my family for generations

We wish you all a happy and healthy 2016!!

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