+SWIMMING with a hippo: yes, we jumped into a crater lake at our first stop, the water was chilly and refreshing, but as we surfaced we noticed a broad shiny head with twitching ears peering out of the reeds about 30 yards away. Lake Ninyabulitwa is mysteriously home to a lone hippo. We took a small row-boat clear across the lake with Grammy, who was a real trooper in roughing-it kind of travel. Seven of us in a double cabin pick-up over dirt roads with only the bushes for bathroom stops . ..
+HIKES, and more hikes. We took an hour trek to a garden-like viewpoint above the lake the next morning. This was a warm-up for two more strenuous hikes. Mt. Sabinyo, an extinct volcano on the southern border was probably the most beautiful trek we have ever done anywhere. God gave us a cool - breeze, clear sunny day to hike from about 8,000 to nearly 12,000 feet (officially 3669 meters), through bamboo and then forests hung with feathery moss, above the tree line into the rare equatorial alpine habitat of lobelias and tussocks. At the top-most point we could stand in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo at the same time. The 14 km of steep scramble did not phase Luke and Caleb, but Jack and I were pretty beat by the end of the 8 1/2 hours! Lastly this morning as Scott headed to Kampala with my mom, the kids and I were joined by two of Luke's friends, as well as Ashley and Sarah, to hike back to Bundibugyo over the Bwamba pass. We saw a handful of blue monkeys, were enveloped in cloud on the topmost ridges, and then descended into the valley of Bundibugyo. It is a other-worldly way to come home, and the kids once again did great, about 15 km of steep up and down in 5 1/2 hours.
+ANIMALS, up close. We took my mom game driving in Queen Elizabeth, and were basically charged by an irrate elephant. Later Luke the Lion Spotter found us two groups of lions, both moms with young ones. He's amazing, the rest of us would never have noted the distant silhouette of brown ears in the tall grass. It was very fun to take a picnic breakfast to the savannah, and to take Grammy on one of our favorite family adventures.
+GAMES--except the hikes, we were able to take my mom on all our adventures. Whenever there was a lull in the travel action she played games with the kids. This was a good week of conversations and togetherness. We all soaked up the privilege of spending our days together.
Home. As we spent the last two weeks with my mom, the reality of the cost that missionary families bear really pressed in on me. We make choices that affect our kids, but also our parents. Because of our life and ministry here my mom does not get to see her grandchildren the way she would like, or live within an easy visiting distance. It is a high cost she pays, made higher by being widowed. I had a cross-stitch over my bed as I grew up that read "Heaven is my Home." We try to carve out a reflection of that Heavenly home here on earth, but having families divided by oceans is one way that we fail. So while I am relieved to be back home in Bundi, and to have this place that my children consider to be their home, I realize that the very fact we have settled here for so many years destroys some of the dreams of "home" that the rest of our families in the US have had. And that is hard.