This was probably one of my favorite days in San Francisco - it was a day full of exploring, beautiful views, and good conversation. We first headed out to Pacifica where it was a blue skies and sunshine. Then we ventured back through the city to get to cross the Golden Gate and make our way to Mount Tamalpais. The drive up to the park was so beautiful. The fog was rolling in and it made the city and the bridge look even more magical. As soon as we got up to the top, we were above the fog and blue skies were visible again. It was probably one of the cool sights I have ever seen. I, also, got to do a little photo shoot with Courtney in her Slumlove tank! Thanks to the lovely couple, Brendan + Courtney, for providing me with a day full of adventure and laughs, it was perfect!
I got to meet my Instagram friend, Riva Ramos (@rivaramos), in real life when I was in San Fran! We have been mutually following each other for a while, so when I found out I was going to be in SF for a few days I messaged her about grabbing coffee! I am so glad she was willing to do more than just that with my friend Courtney + I! We traveled to Out Sunset and explored Sutro Baths + Lands End, then we went to The General Store and walked across to the beach for a mini-shoot. We are all photographers, so I'm sure it was entertaining for anyone watching as we all took turn in front of and behind the camera. I truly enjoyed my time with these lovely ladies discussing photography, business, life and enjoying an epic piece of cinnamon toast! Check out a few pictures below from our adventure!
My time in San Francisco was filled with lots of coffee, walking, and great conversation. There are so many things to do within about an hour of the city and my hosts/ tour guides, The Pittmans, were so great about showing me around. Their apartment is near several coffee shops and the Painted Ladies, so I explored around their neighborhood the first day. Day 2 consisted of a subway ride into downtown with Courtney, where I saw the Ferry building and got to hang out with Court at her new job. We went to the Mission District for dinner and drank tea at Samovar. On my last full day there were drove to Pacifica, across the Gold Gate Bridge, and up to Mount Tamalpais. It was so breathtakingly beautiful as we stood on the mountain side above the fog (full blog post of pictures coming soon). The pictures below are from my excursions around town!
I love taking pictures of people. I love fashion. I love this beautiful Ugandan mountainside. So naturally, a makeshift "fashion shoot" happened on our trip. It was a perfect moment - we were driving along a mountain road, headed towards Bundibugyo, when we saw this look out and immediately, everyone was overwhelmed by the beauty. God's handiwork was on display and we were dying to stop and photograph it. It was our first glimpse of western Uganda and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The valley provided the perfect backdrop as the wind blew through my sweet team members' hair.
The blog title refers to the hashtag that was used for our team during our stay in Uganda. Although not all team members are pictured here, I am so thankful for each and everyone one of them. They are the only people who will ever know exactly what happened that week + that is something I will cherish forever. We had to bond over only having one bathroom for 7 people, warm water for only 4 out of the 7 showers each night, listening to trucks blaring music at 11pm, spotty wifi, and getting our van stuck in the mud, but even more than that, we had the privilege of bonding over listening to sweet stories of beautiful students, dancing +singing Disney songs, exploring students' villages, and witnessing God's love play out tangibly. There is something amazing about being in 'uncomfortable/ unfamiliar' situations with people that will bring you together like nothing else. I am so thankful for Whitney + Nick and The Archibald Project, for connecting such wonderful ladies and bringing us together for a once in a lifetime experience.
Beauty, both in nature and in people, was a huge theme throughout this trip. I was amazed by the beauty that surrounded one of the poorest areas in Uganda (Bundibugyo). My teammates and I witnessed/ heard a lot of hard stories over the short time we were there. Being able to witness the courage and grace from the students we became friends with was so inspiring. God brought about different forms of beauty that I had never seen before. Beauty in the walks from our house to the school every day. Beauty in the classrooms with children learning + engaging with their teachers. Beauty on the soccer fields filled with passionate players and beautiful mountains in the background. I learned to appreciate so much more during daily life while I was there. Time moves much slower in Uganda than it does in the United States - things take so much longer to get done or things break a little more often which forces you to slow down and learn patience.
I felt so inspired by the people and their courage/ grace while living in a place that is seemingly full of despair, at least to an outsider. Yes it is a poor city, but there is so much hope. Hope that is brought by the next generation getting an education, either through Christ School or the other public schools in neighboring villages. Hope in the Gospel that is being spread by the students to their family and community. It was beautiful to see the encouragement from the teachers who the students have so much respect for. The girls are encouraged to finish school and foster their God given talents. The boys are taught to do the same and taught to respect women in a way that culture has not necessarily encouraged.
This blog post appears to be a lot of random thoughts, but that seems to be where my mind is at these days; jumbled thoughts of thankfulness, confusion, 'what's next?', feeling awestruck, and wishing I could return to that one week, that was now 6 weeks ago. Well, if you made it to this point, thanks for reading to the end of this post. More rambling thoughts to come!
For those of you who know me, it is no surprise that I immediately gravitated towards the women's soccer team at Christ School. I have been playing soccer for 20 years now, and to say it has a special place in my heart would be an understatement. I was lucky enough to play soccer almost every day of the trip and it was on one of the most beautiful pitches I have ever see in my life. The grass was lush and the mountains in the background provided an overwhelming feeling that is hard to show through pictures. Aside from the beautiful scenery, the next thing I noticed was the ladies' attire. Many of them had no cleats (they were barefoot) and were wearing non-athletic shorts or skirts with leggings. I have a heart for women's soccer and this team was pulling on my heart strings from the start.
Getting to know + play with the women's team was such a blessing! I loved seeing them work hard and grow as a team in the short time I was there. I am so excited to announce both the women and men's teams are headed to Regionals! This is so great for the school's and town's morale. It is great that they can all rally around the student's talents and provide them with support! This being said, the teams are in desperate need for funds to get to nationals! Traveling and hotel accommodations are expensive and they do not have nearly enough money for both teams to travel.
As a community which is often looked down upon as remote and removed, backwards and challenged, we want to go and compete. We want to allow our students to show that they are competitive, strong-willed, and solid; and even more so, we want them to believe that about themselves. When they have the opportunity to compete at this level and travel to other places in the country, their thoughts about themselves change – they see and experience how their hard work pays off in tangible ways, how their efforts impact where they’re going. And in a place where there’s little space or freedom to dream, where our students aren’t necessarily taught that their hard work directly affects what will come, where hope is hard to come by… this opportunity suddenly becomes bigger than football. It whispers hope to their souls. It teaches them to dream, to cultivate ambition, and to dedicate themselves to their goals.
-Sarah Crane, Employee of Christ School Bundibugyo
They need $10,000 to get the boys and girls to nationals. Any amount helps to help them reach their goal! To give, click here and use designation number 12510. As you can see in the pictures below, many of the girls are also in need of practice attire and gear. Any extra money given will go into a fund that helps provide the girls with balls, cleats, jerseys and other needs through out the season.
For more information, visit here or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Many people have asked me how this trip to Uganda compared to my last visit. Was it better? How was the team? Is it what you expected it to be? The only response that I have is that it was different. During this trip, I got to work with an amazing team of artists to document the stories of the sweet children + staff at Christ School Bundibugyo. Bundibugyo is a small town near the Rwenzori Mountains + the Congo border. It is not a wealthy town, in fact, it is one of the poorest cities in Uganda. There weren't as many western luxuries, as I experienced in Jinja, last year. All of this being said, I could not have felt more at home. We (my 6 team members + I) stayed in the home of a missionary couple who was on leave. Our lovely host, Sarah, was a dream. She cooked us homemade, American meals every night (these consisted of BBQ chicken, tacos, chili, and delicious desserts). Our stay in Bundibugyo was one filled with joy, comfort, and warm welcomes.
Now, when I say 'team' I am referring to the amazing group of artists I got to do life with the entire time I was in Uganda. This team was hand picked by Whitney + Nick Runyon of The Archibald Project. The Archibald Project seeks to spread light on orphan care and how you can help, not matter what stage of life you are in. They started off documenting adoption stories around the world through photography and videography. The nonprofit has now grown so that they can bring teams of people to different areas of the world to tell the stories of orphans, their caregivers, and the organizations that help them. The team members can then take what they have seen and heard to their communities in order to reach even more people. Their slogan is 'story telling changes the world' and in being good friends with Whit + Nick, I have seen the power that their story telling can have and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the bigger plan God has for them.
Last year, I spent a lot of time around the sweet babies of the Arise and Shine babies home in Jijna. I loved hearing their stories from aunties and other people who worked with them. On this trip, however, I got to hear the joys + struggles of the students lives from their own mouths. I heard their stories because they wanted to tell them to me. Several opened up about heartache or success because they wanted their stories to be heard. It brings so much joy to my heart that kids who have been through traumatizing, terrifying or 'embarrassing' circumstances, would open up to a stranger (stay tuned for a blog post on the story of sweet, new friend, Christine). In order to make them feel more comfortable, the team and I spent the first 2 days at the school just talking to the kids, asking them questions and letting them ask us questions, too. We did not bring our cameras, so it was a sweet time to get to know one another. The team and I definitely made fools of ourselves one day by singing all of the Disney classics we could remember off the top of our head. It was such a great time to unwind and let loose. Then, when it was time to bring the cameras out, the kids were more comfortable and, from what most of us observed, natural models. They loved posing and then seeing their pictures on the back of our cameras.
Early in the week, our team got to sit down with a few students to discuss how they felt about attending Christ School. It was evident that not only is the school affecting these student's lives, but, also, the lives of people in the community of Bundibugyo. These students are a light - spreading knowledge and truth about the Gospel to their family members, neighbors, and their community. It was inspiring to hear stories of faith and trust in what the Lord has done for them. They are unashamed to share their faith with others because they trust that the Lord is good. The want to share about the ways that the Lord has provided for them, even in their struggles. What a refreshing change. When we asked them if they were ever ashamed or embarrassed to share their faith, the laughed and said "no, of course not." In America, it can be easy for us to get caught up in material things and the hustle of everyday life, that we forget what is most important. These kids have seen more struggle than I probably ever will in my life time and yet, they are full of thankfulness.
"Christ School Bundibugyo has just begun it's 16th year of Christ-focused education in Bundibugyo, Uganda. We have 260 students, from Senior 1 to Senior 6 (ages 12-22 (ish!)). CSB's mission is to be an academically excellent senior secondary boardig school producing servant leaders for God's glory and the good of Bundibguyo.
Bundibugyo means "end of the road" in the local dialect, and for many years it has been just that. But over 15 years of CSB's work in gospel-centered education, partnered with 25 years of Serge's ministry in Bundibugyo, God is transforming this place! "
- Sarah Crane | Honorary TAP team member, Host + Christ School Employee
My time in Bundibugyo was entirely too short, but it was long enough for me to learn several things about myself, remember what is important in life, and how to serve others. Leaving the school on our last day was heart breaking because we knew we would be leaving pieces of our hearts that we could never get back, We were reminded of the reality that we may never get to see these students or this city, ever again. I am proud of each of my team members for giving their all, loving with everything they had, and serving like Christ did. It was inspiring to watch them all week and I am a better person for knowing each of them.
Want to get involved or find out more about Christ School or donating to this wonderful place? Please visit here to donate. Another way to help is to sponsor a child. There are 260 kids at the school and 60 of these are on sponsorship. They are taking in 10 kids a year on sponsorship, but would love to grow the program to 15 a year. If you have more questions about how to get involved, about media missions, or just about my trip in general, I would love to answer them! Feel free to send me an email in the contact section of my website! Stay tuned for more posts about my time in Bundibugyo.