|Ethan, Toto KKL|
Adaptation back to life in the USA is overwhelming. Yet we know we’ve been called to return to the United States as missionaries. The best old missionaries always taught and lived that family comes first. The best old African wise men and women always taught and lived to make many friends. In those seasons of mystery as one starts afresh old habits create a new. Old virtues bring new opportunities. Some of the best pragmatic lessons we learned at Kampala Kids’ League (KKL) in Uganda.
The Lord gave us delightful years to be in Uganda from 1993 to 2004. Peace had come to Uganda. The Diaspora scattered by refugee living were returning. The media was privatized. Business was booming. The international community was growing. Yet there was an
For our family it was a grace from God for our kids to have a weekly practice and a Saturday game. With three kids playing many of our Saturdays were spent together at games. For some reason, I seemed to have somewhat of a gift to bring out the best in kids and resolve parental conflict. I found myself volunteering in roles from coaching to twice being the basketball commissioner.
We may have offered something to the community, but it was the community who gave so much more back to us. We discovered wonderful friendships. Many of these friendships nurtured our ability to adapt.
|Sopha's magic bat|
In July 2013 we decided it was time to take the biggest risk of our lives. We would move to the north side of Chicago – near to the largest cluster we could find of East African Diaspora and attempt to launch a multi-cultural church plant. The first steps would be to settle the kids well. The pragmatic meant soccer. After all, growing up in Uganda we knew that soccer is life.
Before we enrolled Timothy in school and navigated the complicated Chicago Public Schools (CPS) we found an American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) league in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. On a Sunday in June we drove from Wheaton to Rogers Park to enroll Timothy. We moved into Rogers Park in September. Timothy played his first game. After the game parents asked me the embarrassing question, “Where is Timothy going to school?”
I admitted, “I have not figured that out yet. Do you have any suggestions?”
|Timothy, Victory Sports Camp|
The parents gave me a pretty quick course in navigating the education landscape. Then they offered to show the way. (One lesson of adjustment is to follow.) The next day one parent found that there was one remaining opening for a fifth grade spot at Waters Elementary School (A fine arts magnet school.) We made a call and registered Timothy. It has been a God send. We’re thankful that when we couldn’t find our way soccer families opened a door.to ask around
The lessons of KKL helped us find our way for Timothy’s school. Soccer is life.
|KICS Soccer Team|
Ethan kept playing soccer when we moved to Rwanda. When we moved to Wheaton he played on the Wheaton North sophomore team and for the Glen Ellyn Lakers club team.
As we moved to Chicago we looked at several educational options for Ethan. Chicago Hope Academy (CHA) seemed the best. CHA is the only non-denominational Christian College Preparatory School in Chicago. CHA founder, Bob Muzikowski reminds me of many of the older men who have brought out the best in me. CHA is about the size of Kigali International Community School (KICS) and felt as much like “home” as any place we have found since returning to the USA. The three stated objectives of CHA are spiritual, academic, and athletic.
Ethan tried out for the soccer team. He made the team and played often. He was chosen to be
one of the co-captains.
Last week he was selected to the All-Conference Second team as a
junior. We are very thankful.
|Ethan at Caleb's Harambee|
Again, though adaptation is overwhelming God is taking good care of us. Time after time something happens to tell us we are just where God desires. All we needed to know about cultural adaption we learned at KKL. Soccer is life.
Thank you all who have shared the soccer journey with us: KKL – coaches, sponsors, administrators, and friends; KICS – teachers, coaches, board members, and administrators; Wheaton – coaches, teachers, friends, and Missionary Furlough Home board members; Kopion Junior Academy – administrators and coaches; AYSO – coaches, administrators, and friends; CHA – coaches, teachers, administrators, and friends.
Safari salaama (Travel well.) Mungu akubariki (May God bless all of you.)