Posts tagged ‘home’

January 12, 2019

A Temporary Home

Since the first week of November Othy and I have been living in the home of friends of ours in Lubowa, south of Kampala. It has been good for us to have a bit of stability and a place where we don’t have to pay rent for a short time. It is also a well furnished place which has allowed us to be comfortable and able to host now and again. So although these walls are not ours, they have seen various people who are slowly becoming more apart of our lives. It is exciting to be starting to grow some friendships here in Uganda! Here are some photos from some of our gatherings! It’s a good thing that Othy likes to take photos or we wouldn’t have any!


Jerry, Safi, and their daughter


Noé, Bethany, and their kids

For the first few weeks that we stayed at this apartment, our friends Noé and Bethany and their kids were staying in the same complex in the apartment of another EMI couple. It was fun having them as neighbours. Their girls would sometimes be outside and see us from our back door and wave and yell hello. Other times we would see them on our way to going for a walk or bump into them at the store. The girls have so much energy and excitement that they treat you like you are the best person in the world. On American Thanksgiving, the day before they moved out of the apartment and left for Kenya, we shared a nice meal together. We were sad to see them leave!

Othy imported two cars to sell in Congo and one for us to use in Kampala. It greatly simplified getting around and my weak back was also thankful for it. It is a blue Mazda Verisa. To celebrate our one month being married and having a car we went out to see a movie in theatres. The cinema has particular meaning for us because we went to see the Hobbit in 3D while getting to know each other back in 2014. This time we went to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The following week we went to the theatres again, this time to treat Salama and Wivine since Wivine would soon be returning to Congo. The traffic was so bad that we couldn’t pick them up and instead told them to get a boda and meet us at the mall. We missed the 7:45 show but decided to go to the 10pm show instead! So although we were out past midnight, it was much nicer to drive home on empty roads!


Rodrigue, Guylaine and family

Othy’s mother was in town for a few weeks to receive diagnosis and treatment for back pain. It was good timing that Othy and I were here and that Othy could drive her to and from appointments and run errands in town. I joined them on some of the outings. It was nice to spend more time with her and I also practiced more Swahili than I had in a long time. We brought Othy’s mom and Salama to the bus station when it was time for them to head back. Two weeks later we did the same for Obady who was travelling home to Goma for Christmas and New Years.

Christmas was the quietest I have ever experienced. The only decoration that I did was to buy white string lights and wrap them around a coffee table made of tree branches. Othy and I spent Christmas eve on our own, but Christmas day we were invited by Maggie to join a group for lunch. In the afternoon we decided to take advantage of the pool that is on our compound and go swimming for the first time! So although it was quiet, this Christmas will be memorable in it’s own way because it will probably only get busier and louder from here! On Christmas day Othy and I had a nice call with my family while they were gathered eating breakfast. We even took a family photo with those near and far!


The fam!





The person who visited us the most is our friend Elysée who is from our Like Christ group in Beni and has come to Kampala for post-secondary studies. During our time in Lubowa we often attended Kampala International Church (KIC) Lubowa where he also attends and is on the worship team. He would come home with us after church on several Sundays. Our last Sunday spent together with Elysee was on December 30th which was also election day. When Othy picked up the car he also brought his guitar which meant that we could enjoy playing and singing some songs together. On this particular day Othy and Elysée taught me a song called “Fanda Nayo”, or “Reign Forever” in Lingala. I realized that I had heard the song before at the UCBC graduation. We wanted to give God praise on election day because we know that no matter what happens, he is the ultimate ruler and holds us in his hands. 

To bring on the new year we decided to have one last time hosting people in our temporary home. We invited several of Othy’s friends from his time at Ugandan Christian University (UCU) and Elysée came again. They are such a great group of people and I look forward to spending more time with them. As we waited for the new year we shared about the challenges faced this past year but also how God was working through them and how he has blessed us. For me 2018 was a year full of both. At midnight we counted down and shared a toast and were surprised to find that we could see some fireworks that were being set off in Kajjansi. We kept talking past midnight and so by the time we dropped everyone off at their homes and then came back it was almost 4am!


What a year it has been indeed! Like the year before it has been another season of waiting. I was in a long-distance relationship with Othy and waiting to be reunited. I was working in architecture waiting to have enough hours to obtain licensure. I thought that once Othy and I were married the waiting would finally be over, but it looks like God has put us into another season of waiting, now as a couple. We are waiting for ebola to be contained, for stability to return to Beni region, and for elections to take place in Congo. But just like my time of waiting in Toronto, this time of waiting is not wasted. We are growing as a couple, finding ways to grow spiritually, and meeting incredible people along the way whose lives we have the opportunity to impact. The Christmas season reminded me that the Israelites were also in a time of waiting for the promised Messiah to come to redeem the world, and that now we are all waiting for Christ’s return.

The first week of January Othy and I spent time searching for an apartment. On January 6th we moved into a new place that we will have for at least three months. We are moving to a completely different neighbourhood that is on the opposite side of town than Lubowa. I will miss the calmness of the area and am sad that we are leaving a place when I felt like we were just beginning to grow some friendships there. I will miss the walks Othy and I would often go on exploring the area but hopefully we will continue the tradition in this new place. The new apartment is a good fit for us and hopefully we will find some community here too. Already after only two months we are ending a season and starting another.


Creative Christmas decor


Exploring the neighbourhoods around Lubowa

Fanda Nayo (Sung in Lingala)

Kiti ya bokonzi na yo Yesu ee éléki makasi
(The throne of your Glory so Jesus, is Powerful,)
Nani ako longolayo, po tovota yo té
(None can dethrone You, because we did not vote you)
Ba mpaka mikolo, ba mama, bilenge, decidé
(Wise men, children, mothers, young people all decided)
Ya ko tombola kiti oyo ya bokonzi, ya yaya Yesué
(To raise Jesus’ throne) (Repeat)

Yaya fanda nayo (Father Reign Forever)
Fanda nayo (Reign Forever)
Wumela seko na seko (May Your kingdom live forever)  (Repeat)

To vota kutu té (No one voted for You)
To pona kutu té (No one chose You)
Wumela séko na séko (May Your Kingdom live forever) (Repeat)

Ba polos kutu té (You did not need to give out Polos (bribes) )
Ba chapeaux kutu té (No need for hats (politician bribes))
Wumela séko na séko (May Your Kingdom last forever) (Repeat)



August 1, 2018

A Day in My Life in Beni

To give you a better idea of what my life is like here in Beni, I thought I would try to describe for you a typical day.

I wake up at 5:30am every morning. My schedule has totally shifted because the sun starts to rise at that time and in the evenings I usually climb into bed early to get away from the mosquitos. I sometimes do exercise because I find I am missing the regular activity I had from walking and biking all over Toronto! At around 7 I eat breakfast that consists of tea with either buns with avocado or honey, wheatabix with milk, and/or rice pudding (rice from the previous night, milk powder, a bit of hot water, and banana… yum!). Before leaving the house I have to make sure the cats have something to eat. There is Mama Cat, George the papa, and four energetic kittens that are growing fast. Soon we will be giving them away to some of our friends and colleagues. At 7:45 I am out the door to head to the university.



I usually drive to get the university though it is also possible to take a motorcycle taxi or “moto”. I feel fortunate to be able to use Mary and Jessica’s car while they are away. Driving here is an interesting experience because all of the roads except the main one are bumpy dirt roads, and the car is from Uganda and therefore the drivers seat is on the opposite side. Fortunately it is a Toyota Rav 4 and so it can handle the bumps pretty well. It has taken several weeks to get used to the turning signal and the windshield wipers being in the opposite positions. On the road you always have to be 110% focused because there are motos and pedestrians everywhere and there is always the possibility of vehicles going in the wrong direction, not having working lights, etc.

UCBC is about a 15 minute drive away. I park near the welcome centre and then walk to the office of the Integrated Research Institute. The campus is small but growing. The community centre project is still ongoing (a project that EMI has been assisting with for several years now), this time with four classrooms complete and two more classrooms and a hallway being worked on. IRI is located in two of the newly built rooms; one of them is more of a meeting style room with a large conference table, and the other has individual desks. A few times a week we have meetings, but other than that everyone works fairly independently. On Monday and Fridays there is a chapel time at noon before lunch with some worship and a message. UCBC had a huge tent donated and built that they use for these large gatherings. At lunch most people gather on the balcony of the Academic 1 building. The school has a cook who prepares Kiringiti which is rice and beans. There is usually also a choice of Ndizi (a savoury plantain but ironically I don’t care for it because I find it too sweet) and greens that could be Sombe (made from cassava leaf), Aubergine (eggplant), Chou (cabbage) or others. I often eat with the group from IRI and try my best to follow their fast conversations in French!


New classroom block where IRI is located

The school day ends at 4pm. Some days I leave an hour or two earlier to take calls or do work for my job with E4C. I also try to devote some time to learning Swahili. Slowly but surely my knowledge is increasing. Often I’ll make the short walk to a nearby small corner store and market to buy things like toilet paper, canned sardines for the cats, bread, bananas, and avocados. Othy sometimes visits and we sit and talk or watch a TV episode and then he stays for dinner. Dinner is prepared by two mamas who we hire who also help take care of the house. They are the main people who I try to practice my limited Swahili with. “Mama” is the term given to any woman who is married, and similarly “Papa” to any man, and so soon I will be called “Mama”! Dinner usually consists of a meat dish of either goat, beef, or fish, a carb dish of rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ndizi, or fufu (a thick puree made from cassava root flour), and a vegetable dish of various kinds of greens (cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, cassava leaf, and even some greens I don’t know the name of). I enjoy dinner time because I always eat together with whoever is staying in the house at the time; it feels so different than my solitary meals during my studies and time working in Toronto. After dinner we usually enjoy tea and some fresh fruit like pineapple, mango, or passion fruit. After dinner I try to do one more hour of work, e-mails, blogging, or Swahili, and then I get ready to turn in between 9 – 10pm already! That about sums up a typical day! In the next post I will share some highlights from the last two months because not every day is like this!

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March 27, 2016

Family Day Weekend

Family day weekend was full of activity. On the Friday I met up with Kurian, a couch surfer from India who would be staying with us for a few days. On the Saturday I ran errands and then worked on my wood divider screen, a project I have been putting off for years that I am finally planning to finish! That evening I went to Indie Ale House with Siubhan and Kurian, and later Susan came and joined us. It was below negative thirty on the Friday and Saturday! Sunday was valentines day and Susan had the great idea to plan a love themed worship night. The event was at Glo’s place and the place was packed tight with people from Grace! Monday morning was family day and Jana, who I met through Adam House, invited us to brunch at her place. Then in the afternoon Susan and I finally got around to painting our living room wall! It was something that we had been talking about for a long time and we were very happy with the result! That evening I met up with Vikkie at Finch station and we went for Korean food. The restaurant was super busy but the food was worth it and it was very nice to catch up! Afterwards we went for bubble tea and Vikkie pulled out these amazing rose apple tarts for me to try. She knows that I never mind being a taste-tester for her baking experiments!IMG_20160215_142631IMG_20160215_221026

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Couch surfer selfie


March 3, 2016

Home Projects

Over Christmas I used some of my dad’s maple lumber to make some furnishings for my and Susan’s apartment. We have this cute little sunroom off the back of the house that is perfect for plants in the summer, but the problem was that there was no sill to place plants on. The first project was to make a long sill to go underneath the windows on both walls. The second project was a group of shelves for the living room. Unfortunately they still are not all up because I haven’t found any more brackets that I like! The pair that I have I found at an antique store in the junction.

I cut the pieces with my dad’s help in his workshop and then he drove me home after the holidays to drop off the pieces and help me install a new Ikea lamp over our dining table. Because sanding is such a dirty job, I made the sunroom into a little workshop for a few weeks. I took a lot of care with the sanding and finishing and the results were excellent! I decided to try using shellac as a finish because I wanted to keep the natural colour of the maple and wanted to use a more natural product. I am very happy with how they turned out!


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February 7, 2016

Christmas in my New Home


The weeks before Christmas were very busy but wonderful. Everyday on my walk from work I would pass this intensely decorated house, complete with a blow-up Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer! The week before Christmas Susan and I hosted our first couch surfer, a girl named Ashley from Taiwan. I think the favourite part of her stay was that she got to sleep in the same room as our beautiful Christmas tree! This year was the first time that I had my own Christmas tree! I had it easy because Susan already had a tree base and a whole collection of decorations. I think the most interesting decorations she had were these miniature people dressed in costume called Mummers. Apparently “Mummering” is a Newfoundland tradition of making door to door visits in disguise! Susan also had these fantastic outdoor colourful LED lights and i decided to surprise her by wrapping them around the stair banister from the entry all the way up to our bedrooms.

IMG_20151206_211803IMG_20151211_004422On December 16th I went and saw Handel’s Messiah with a large group from Grace Toronto at the Roy Thomson Hall. Then the following evening I had my office Christmas party that was hosted by Philip and Anne. Although I was coming and going a lot, I still found a bit of time to hang out with Ashley and talk about things she should see and do in the city. On the final night of her stay I invited her to come with me to Adam House to make gingerbread houses with the residents. In only a few days she had experienced several new Christmas traditions!



October 31, 2015

Return to the West End

The day after returning from the conference I started the first day of my new job. It was a bit crazy but I wanted to jump right in because I was absolutely broke! You won’t guess where I got a new job! Philip Beesley Architect! That’s right, I went back… yet again (this is the third time). This time though it is for an entirely different role. Philip Beesley is partnering with an Austrian architect, Rolf Siefert who is working on a few building projects in Toronto. The main one that is well underway is a renovation and addition to an old industrial building in Liberty Village. The building has a lot of character and it has been challenging and fun to work on! I have been a few times on site and felt like, yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing! Remind me.. why did it take so long to get to this point? I am now in the intern architect program and have started logging my hours to become a certified, full-fledged architect! Only two-ish more years to go (that is if I am ultra efficient)!

Another fun moment was getting my bound theses from the school! What? I wrote a one inch thick book? Okay, that must mean I can do anything I put my mind to (with God’s strength and direction)!

Bound thesis book

Because I was working in the West end, I had a real desire to move back there and be closer to my job. Where I was renting a room from John-Paul in the East end it took me an hour to get to and from work and I felt distant from the architecture community. I had previously lived for a year in little Portugal and eight months in the Junction triangle and so the area already felt like home. My friend Jen from Grace Toronto knew that I was looking for a place and wanted to introduce me to a girl from our church named Susan who was looking in the same area. It seemed like we would get along great and so we started looking for a place together. It was an exhausting process but we found a place a few weeks later! It’s the biggest place I’ve ever had! Sometimes I feel like it is more space then I need, but then I think of how nice it is to host people and work on crafty projects :P. The apartment is in the Junction neighbourhood and is the second and third floors of a house. The kitchen, dining, and living rooms are on the main floor and the bedrooms are on the upper floor. The apartment is a perfect twenty minute walk away from my work and a skip and a jump from High Park! Because the apartment is so spacious I think it is going to take a while for us to get it looking the way we want, but I have managed to make my room into a welcoming, gezellig space.

Bedroom IMG_1692

I might save photos of the living areas for another day when I am more proud of what they look like! For now though, here is a project that I did last weekend. Susan has a wicked road bike that she keeps inside and we were trying to think of a cool place to put it. We have a very generous stairway and so I thought it would be cool to hang it off the wall there. I went into a bike shop looking for wall hooks and found out that they are expensive, but then I was inspired by bikes that were on display that were sitting on a sloped rack and held from behind with a single hook. I realised that this would work in our entry on a small little sloped area that runs beside the stairs and would only cost me a few dollars! The result is that when you enter our apartment, you feel like you are about to be run down by a bike! I put two hooks in so that my future nice bike (one day…) will also have a home…. :P There will be many more house projects yet to come!

Bike storage

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January 16, 2015

Toronto Home Again

Over the holidays I moved yet again, this time to Toronto. The move came as a bit of a surprise even to myself. I had intended to stay in my apartment in Cambridge until I finished my masters; I have never had such a comfortable apartment or made a place so much my own. But when I was in Uganda thinking ahead to my return, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to Cambridge. The main reason was the desire to to be in a better “headspace”. I’ve been in Toronto for two weeks now and don’t regret my decision. I’ve already been able to go to social activities at my church and joined a recreational soccer team. I am situated on the East end of the city (shocking I know!) in Little India at Gerrard and Coxwell. During the day I either work at home or go to a cafe. I’ve already found my favourite little spot called the Flying Pony. I am delightfully close to a skating rink and pool and to the Toronto Beaches/Tommy Thompson Park for the best of winter and summer activities! I already went on an early morning run and saw the sun rise over the lake; beautiful!Frozen Waves

Ashbridge's Bay Park

Ashbridge’s Bay Park

My Street

Flying Pony

Flying Pony

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June 9, 2014

Beautiful Objects

Here’s me testing out my camera with some of my new favourite objects.

My collection of plants is growing and I just transplanted them into bigger pots yesterday!


I was so happy to get a package in the mail from my Italian friend Marianna. She made these lovely handmade soaps and lip balm.


I found these little votives at the Art of Home store down the street. They are simple glass cups wrapped in wood veneer that have different patterns printed on them. They light up pretty well in the sun but are even more lovely at night with candles burning in them.


February 25, 2014

Baked Veggies and Butter Tarts

I had a fun time last night cooking and baking. One of my favourite dishes to cook right now is just a mix of roasted vegetables. It takes an hour to make, but it’s an hour that I can spend doing homework while the veggies cook in the oven! I also made butter tarts for the first time. Because I have never made pie crust, I used a recipe I found for shortbread dough, and a high-rated recipe for the filling. I don’t like raisins so I tried a few with the plain butter filling, and a few with coconut. I think they turned out really well for a first try!

Roasted veggies Butter tarts Butter tarts side view

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February 11, 2014

Pillows and Kitty

I recently completed my second sewing project that was to make pillow covers for my living room. Here they are! They are red and blue with a white cord. My plan is to eventually make four more: two that are blue and white with a red cord and two that are red and white with a blue cord. I also made a cover for a square pillow, this time with all of the same fabric that has a nice embroidered pattern on it. I’d like to make one or two more of those as well. I could definitely see myself getting faster as I went. Making my first ever pillow with the trim wasn’t easy! PillowsDSCN8738DSCN8742

I also want to introduce you to another member we have in the house. Karan my roommate is taking care of his mother’s cat for a month. The cat’s name is Manu. He is a beautiful grey colour and quite cute but unfortunately isn’t the friendliest cat to strangers. Mostly we leave each other alone, though while I was sewing he sat on the back of the couch and watched me, and also played with the fabric while I was laying it out to cut the patterns. Over all it is a nice experience to have a pet in the house, though I think I will always be more of  a dog person.


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