Workin' it.

24 May 2018

Just a quick random story!

I am part of a local expat forum and had seen announcements for a boot camp fitness class followed by a spin class. I like both, and know I'm a much happier and nicer person to be around when I'm getting regular exercise, so I decided to give it a shot.  The classes were much cheaper than at the one big gym in town; that gym costs $289 per month for classes and gym usage, and while many expats can afford that on an embassy or UN salary, I certainly can't!  So I thought I'd try this other place.

So I pulled up with all the bravery I could manage, not knowing anyone or even where it was really.  First off, the guard at the gate had run off to buy some water, so I sat outside the gate waiting to get my vehicle in for a good three or four minutes - the whole time wondering if maybe this was a bad idea all around.

Entryway destroyed in the war

Abandoned fountain outside

When I finally got in, I had to be led to the right staircase, which wasn't clear.  The building was built in 89 and was once really fancy, you can tell, but was destroyed in the war and hasn't been rebuilt.  It was owned by one of the previous president's families, I guess, and the building was important to one side in the war, and it's destruction important to the other.

Anyway, it's still pretty sketch, and I'm walking up these steps literally wondering if I'm going to make it out alive....





Then I get up to the room, and they've done a great job fixing it up - new floors, windows, and some ceiling fans and lights... but honestly, not really up to par with gyms back home, so it felt a little disappointing.  It was also really, really hot, with no air conditioning.  I was the only one there, because nothing ever starts on time, and even though I know that I still show up early and end up waiting around.  A few other people eventually wandered in, but the whole time I'm standing around thinking this was a really bad idea and I'm probably not ever coming back.

But then things turned around.  I found out the story of the place, and it's a locally-owned business and they're just trying to get it off the ground, and they were all some of the nicest people I've ever met. They were so encouraging, and kind, at the same time as being forceful and kinda pushy, getting us to push ourselves outside our comfort zone.  Everyone was encouraging and so, so nice and fun to be with while sweating more than I've ever sweated in my entire life.

Trainers extraordinaire!  (I told them to look mean... but they aren't)

And what once felt like it might have been a terrible idea turned out to be one of the things I've loved the most so far in my time here.  Amazing people, awesome workouts, and I'm getting used to working out in the heat!  I look forward to going every Monday and Wednesday!   So moral of the story is... first impressions aren't always right!

Thumbs up for a great workout!

(PS if you're local and want more info, comment on this blog. All comments are kept private unless I choose to share them)

On losing it.

19 May 2018

I couldn’t find my key this morning.  

I put it on a chain around my neck when I went for a run last night, and would have used it to come in from my run and lock the door behind me, so I knew it had to be somewhere in the house.  I went directly into the shower after my (extremely sweaty) run, and I would have had the key in my hand from locking the door after coming in.  I always leave my keys in the same place, so when I went to grab them to head to work this morning, I found my car keys right next to my sunglasses I was also wearing while running, but the key on the chain I wore around my neck? Not there. 

I must have set it somewhere else in my post-run deliriously hot and sweaty state.  I scoured, I pulled my bed apart, I looked under everything and in every nook and cranny it could have ended up. No luck.  Our housekeeper came today, so I told her on my way out to keep an eye out for a key on a chain and assumed she would find it during the day as she’s a really thorough cleaner. 

Nope.  

After a long day and a long week, to come home to a missing key (we had an extra so I could still get in)… well. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.  People tell me all the time how brave and strong I am, and this story is for them. I fell apart. 

I started pulling the place to pieces, retracing my steps again and again and yet again, thinking I must have missed it the first dozen times I looked.  I looked under everything and around everything and even pulled up the mattress in case it slipped down in between it and the bed frame. As I’m doing this I’m getting more and more upset; the tears start to burn in the backs of my eyeballs as my jaw clenches and my inner self-talk goes from it must be here somewhere to what is wrong with you to you are a complete and utter disaster, an embarrassment to the human race, you can’t even hold on to your keys, and you think you’re going to have some noble role in transforming a nation? What a joke! You’re a fraud and an idiot and a poor excuse for a friend/roommate/international worker/humanitarian/human. 

Over a misplaced key. 

Honestly. 

Then I sat on my bed and cried.  It was no longer about the key, but missing home, and friends, and hugs, and familiarity, and comfort.  It was about suddenly feeling the weight of responsibility and big decisions and frustrations, of feeling incompetent and needing to ask a million and a half questions every single day, of not sleeping well and feeling hot all the time and all the other stressors and pressures building up over the last few weeks… within the disorientation of losing something that’s pretty important, that I’ve never lost before in my life, and apparently highlights my overwhelming ineptitude in regards anything meaningful and worth doing.  

Well, thankfully, this is not my first rodeo and I could see that my reaction was far, far, far out of proportion to the triggering event. I could see there’s something bigger here, deeper, more fundamental to my identity that was at stake, so I stopped. Just stopped.  Stopped thinking, looking, crying, panicking, and felt the weight of the accusations against my identity and calling… and said no.  

I will not let you talk to her like that. 

Someone said to me one time something that has been incredibly important through the years of this journey: if you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have any friends. 

And sometimes I have to remove myself from myself to see it… putting my hand up to silence the mean part of me, the one that wants to tear down and defeat and destroy.  I will not let you talk to her like that.  What would I say if it was a friend having this meltdown in front of me? It’s a key.  It’s easily replaced. You are not a failure as a human or a roommate or any of that other garbage.  You’re human. And logically, it has to be here somewhere, because you’re not locked out on your run.  You can handle moving across the world and meeting presidents and prime ministers and speaking to thousands and a million other awesome things… how does losing a key destroy all of that? It doesn’t.  It doesn’t. 

And with that little pep talk to myself and a quick chat with a friend, suddenly the whirling stopped and the seas calmed and all was well and peaceful again.   

And a few minutes later, I found the missing key. 

And I’ve decided to share this for one major reason: ten years ago, this might have taken me out for a week.  I would not have stopped the self-hatred and destruction, and there would have been hours of tears, not the minute or two there were today.  I know I’m not alone in the familiarity with the shame spiral; in fact, I don’t know any woman with whom I’ve had a close relationship that couldn’t relate in some way or another to this story and the feelings within.   

The line, I will not let you talk to her that way has been critical in my personal growth and freedom from the shame spirals.  The whole thing this afternoon lasted less than ten minutes; in the past it would have been much longer, and maybe someday it won’t happen at all.  But the darkness does not win today, not even close… and once again I’m grateful I can feel because it means I am alive.  

This isn't the key I lost, but one I keep close to remind me of who I am. 




Life without rails.

17 May 2018

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the close-of-service conference for the current batch of Peace Corps volunteers just finishing up their two years of service to this country.  A room full of incredible stories of leaving comfort behind for the adventures of living in mud houses, hauling water, grading papers by candlelight, and investing in the future of this nation. They had all served as teachers; many of them never having taught before and likely not ever teaching again, and all of them standing on the edge of the precipice, ready to take the giant leap into the next season or next adventure or next right thing for their lives and their stories. 

These conferences always include a panel of former volunteers to talk about life after Peace Corps, and I’ve had the privilege of offering my two bits of wisdom in several different countries. It always brings back fond memories of my own COS conference; the excitement of the next thing with the grief of leaving the place that had become home. I’ve adventured quite a lot since then, living in and visiting dozens of countries and working in multiple fields, and every time I tell the story I think once again how grateful I am for the journey. 

The panelists rotated around to one of six tables, taking a few minutes to share their stories and then answering any variety of random questions from the current volunteers. After I had shared my story in a nutshell; studying science in college, then Microsoft, Peace Corps, Mercy Ships, Disney, Mercy Ships, University of Liverpool, Harvard, and now my current work, I fielded several standard questions and then was thrown a twister.  The current volunteer asked something along the lines of,

So when your career derailed, from science to business to health to social justice and policy, how did you handle that? 

I understood the question and thought it a great one, and after considering it for a few seconds, I replied, 

Your life can never be derailed if you don’t have any rails in the first place. 

I went on to explain that if I had a career path decided long ago and had set my heart and mind and focus on achieving that one thing regardless of what happened, that would be like putting down rails.  And rails aren’t bad, most of us have them.  But when life happens, and your plans derail; there’s a job loss, or an extended illness, or the economy tanks, or you just find you don’t love it, that could be a tragic, life transforming event that throws  everything else into chaos.  That’s what he was asking about, how to navigate that derailing. 

I’ve never put down rails in my life.  Way back in college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to have fun doing it.  I’ve never been able to really answer the question of ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ and I admitted to those Peace Corps volunteers that I still don’t have any career aspirations whatsoever.  When I’m asked the question now, my answer is, I will be doing good, somewhere in the world. I never would have guessed this is where I’d be now, and I’d never presume to put God in a box and decide what my future looks like.  

When you have no rails, then that career change isn’t a tragic life-transforming event; it’s a fun new adventure, an untamed field to explore. When you have no rails, there’s no reason to be miserable just to make it to the next level.  I need to be doing good, leaving the world a little bit better than when I came into it; I want to have fun doing it.  I want to do cool stuff, and I want to write about it. I want to share my experiences, to help others see outside of their own stories to the global story unfolding on earth.  I want to keep learning and keep growing and keep trying to do more and more good in the world… because I don’t know what the point of all this is, if we aren’t loving and serving and breathing life and bringing light and hope and freedom and joy to those who are in need of it. 

It’s unorthodox, to be sure; this life without rails can be a wild, sometimes scary adventure that is dependent on a whole lot of faith and obedience and trust… and laughter, and courage, and joy, and gratitude beyond measure.  To those volunteers, and to anyone else standing on the edge of the next big thing; consider the possibility of following your heart, or your calling, or your dream, instead of your career path.  It’s not necessarily always going to be the right thing, or the best thing, but it is a possibility.  And I’ll tell you, in my experience? It’s awesome.  My life is incredible and I wouldn’t trade it for any career path in the world. 


My friend Alex and I in front of the national, US, and Peace Corps  flags at the training center

Step by step.

14 May 2018


 I had a great week and a wonderful weekend and I’m sitting here asking myself yet again, how is this my life?? 

~~

The first week on my own as the new boss went about as well as I could have hoped.  Knowing this type of work as well as I do I set my expectations for the week incredibly low, so I was guaranteed to make it to the end of the week feeling pretty good about it all… and it didn’t disappoint.  I met some people and made some decisions and organized some things and fixed a computer and encouraged some staff and watched and learned and asked a whole lot of questions.  There is so much I want to do and so much I wish I could do and so many ideas and hopes and dreams, and I’m so grateful I get to do this.  

I did realize something this week.  Though I’ve spent most of my career in public health, and now have made the switch to social justice, while the subject is different, the problems that need solving are actually the same.  My roommate works in education and in talking to her I see the exact same thing. Whether you’re in health or social justice or education or really any arena… though the arena is different, the obstacles are the same, across the developing world.  There isn’t enough money, trained personnel, supplies, governmental support, or accountability, in any arena.  There are lots of hospitals being built, so that the numbers related to access look good; a lower population per hospital number.  But quality care is not available in those hospitals. There are lots of schools, everywhere, so that it looks like we have enough schools to cover the entire population, but the kids aren’t learning anything, and graduating without knowing how to read or write. There are orphanages opening to take kids off the street but their quality of life hasn’t actually improved.  And these problems are so complex; there are so many components to them, they are so tangled up in each other and systemic issues and throw a war or an epidemic into the mix and there’s just no easy way to fix it all.   If there was an answer, a path to follow, a simple set of instructions to make these things all better, it would have been instituted long ago; but instead of feeling overwhelmed by it all we decide to put on foot in front of the other, and step by step we do the next right thing, trying to make it a little better each day.  

~~

I really like my apartment and my roommate is fantastic; it’s a little way off the busy roads and we have plenty of space. No matter what window you’re looking out of, you can see palm trees.   I’ve gotten comfortable driving the thirty minutes each way to the office, and I’ve visited several different grocery stores to figure out where I can get various items at the best price possible.  Food is surprisingly expensive here, so I’ve had to adjust my budget a bit and have already eaten quite a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I’m grateful for what I have and for the delicious local pineapples and papayas I enjoy on a regular basis.  I visited a local fitness class that left me sore for days, I’ll definitely be going back.  I went to the beach on Saturday, hosted a dinner party on Sunday, and am gradually getting to know people and make friends and feel like this place is starting to become my home. 


~~

We’re just heading in to rainy season, and everyone is telling me how awful it is.  Apparently this area sees upwards of three feet of rain per month during rainy season; most of the roads get flooded out, transportation is difficult, clothes never really dry, and general misery presides. I’m not really sure what to think of this.  I’ve lived through a lot of rainy seasons in various countries but this seems like it will be the most intense.  A lot of expats go home during this season, something to definitely keep in mind for next year! But the weather’s been fine so far, a mix of sun and clouds with occasional rains, the heat index (combination of temp and humidity) putting us in the upper nineties every day, which isn’t too bad if you have a fan.  But in these days leading to rainy season I’m grateful for every day I can see blue skies peeking through the palm trees out my window. 

~~

Today is a holiday here, Unification Day.  I'm grateful for one extra day off to have enjoyed the weekend fully and still feel prepared to face the week and figure out what to focus my time and energy on in the days ahead.  Overall, life is good. I have three or four other blog posts started about specific things, but I know some readers were anxious for a general update, so here you go.  Thanks for following along this journey with me! A few photos: 











There is so much.

04 May 2018

I arrived in my new country of residence late on Sunday night, and it’s been a non-stop week since then.  I’ve met with the staff, been introduced to a hundred different important people that I need to try to remember, I’ve visited offices and restaurants and coffee shops and hotels, asked a million questions and came up with two million more.  

There is so much. 

There is so much need. Several meetings ended up being a long discussion pointing out all the lack; there is never enough money, food, supplies, space, and trained personnel to adequately care for the thousands of children abandoned, abused, bought and sold.   It can be disheartening, but at the same time, there is so much strength. Determination. Grit.  I’ve met some incredibly inspiring people who work with almost nothing in deplorable conditions and yet… they keep trying.  They keep showing up and doing the best they can with what they have.  

There is so much broken. The adults in the room have lived through a heinous civil war, many of them forced to fight or flee and certainly live in fear.  Just as things were really starting to look up here, Ebola hit and decimated the population and the progress they had made.  There are broken systems and broken buildings and broken people. There is so much apathy, and I can understand why.  And yet…

There is so much hope. The first peaceful transfer of power in decades happened in January and you can still feel the energy in the government, in the streets, in the hearts and words of the people.  There is so much growth, and possibility, and ideas, and goodness ahead. They have survived and thrived and it’s absolutely remarkable.

There is so much beauty. I was able to escape the dust and noise of the city to see a program implementation a few hours from the capital; the lush green countryside fed my soul and lowered my blood pressure.  The brilliant fabrics, the red dirt, the earnest faces and waves and smiles beckon my heart to relax into this place, to let it become home.  

There is so much I want to do.  So much. Just within this organization I have things to accomplish in relation to operational efficiency and organization, to finance, to program development, monitoring and evaluation, policy, partnerships, funding and development, personnel, training and staff development… on and on.  It feels like I’m standing at the base of a mountain to climb. 

It would be easy to say I feel overwhelmed but I don’t.  Somehow the last ten years of development experience has broken through my achiever tendencies and I’m really excited to start climbing the mountain, one step at a time.  The next step?  Move in to my apartment tomorrow, bring order to the chaos, unpack the suitcases I’ve been living out of for weeks and weeks, and take a deep breath. The rest will come. 

There is so much gratitude, in me, that I get to do this, that my friends and family support me, that I’ve been welcomed here with open arms and I’ve been gifted just the right skills, abilities, and passions for this season in this place.   Thank you, from the depths. 




May it be so.

30 April 2018

I was awakened by the early morning crow of roosters just outside my window; heartless creatures with no deference to the fact that I hadn’t slept much in the two days of travel across nine time zones and that their early morning trumpeting anthem to the rising of the sun was an unwelcome intrusion in my deep, dreamless sleep. But just as the sun rises every day so do the rooster calls, and with that I slowly entered in to my first day of living back in West Africa. 

~~

A few hours later, I’ve enjoyed a fully-caffeinated cup of coffee, a rare treat that I’m grateful to no longer be desperate for but enjoy fully on days like today. I’ve managed a shower, throwing my hair into the ponytail that is the norm until the next time I set foot in a less tropical climate and can control the frizzy mess. For the same reason I wear almost no makeup, the heat and humidity melting it off my face in a matter of minutes.  My skin is always happy in this place.  

I’m wearing a light dress and have slipped my still travel-swollen feet into flipflops for the first part of the day. Hopefully the swelling will continue to go down in the hours before I need to wear real shoes to a meeting with a local partner later this afternoon.  I’m so looking forward to having clothes made here; the bright African fabrics beckon, custom-made local dresses garner instant respect among the locals.  I still grieve a little bit when I think of the bag full of beautiful, perfectly tailored African clothing that was lost by Air France last summer.  I must begin replacing them soon.  

I hear the pitter-patter of a few drops of rain on the tin roof above me and I wonder if we’re in for a sprinkling or a deluge. We’re in that weird, unpredictable space between dry and rainy seasons; it doesn’t rain all day every day as it will starting in a few weeks, with roads flooding and rivers flowing fiercely through whatever happens to fall in the torrent’s path.  The rain can be fierce in the tropics, and I feel the familiar pang of injustice, as other countries and people suffer in the grip of drought while we have more water than we know what to do with here. 

In a few minutes I’ll escape the cool of my air-conditioned bedroom and face my first staff meeting, where I’ll be introduced as the new boss.  I’m a little nervous but mostly excited; there’s something magical somehow about being back on the African continent, where I feel a different kind of alive, like a piece of me that I left behind slides silently back into place and I am whole again.  

~~

The customs and immigration process in this part of the world is always a frustration; there’s generally not much logic or efficiency in the process, and it’s as if the airport staff is always surprised by this giant plane landing and unloading hundreds of weary passengers.  But it seems the universe knew I needed a jolt of encouragement, and the process of arrival last night was the easiest and most straightforward I’ve ever experienced in the countless times I’ve gone through it.  I’m praying it’s an indication of what is to come for me in this foreign land; a smooth, easy welcome.  May it be so. 

~~

It was a deluge, by the way. The rain pounded the roof so loudly we had to delay our first meeting as it was impossible to hear what anyone was saying.   In the meantime we found out about a meeting we should have been a part of so rearranged the rest of the day to accommodate; this is the norm here and I’m reminded once again to release my type-A-American grip on time and planning and punctuality. 

~~

Lunch consisted of a peanut butter sandwich and a granola bar, both American goodies brought over in one of the six bags that contain everything important in my life.  I said once, and I’ll say it again, with enough peanut butter I really do think I can make a difference in the world.  Also in those bags you’ll find a large stash of protein powder, probiotics, mechanical pencils and post-it notes; a lovely alliterative combination of treats that together make me feel almost invincible.   Almost.  

~~

In an afternoon full of meetings I’m reminded a hundred times why I am here.  The topics of discussion range from the seemingly insignificant to the heinous and grievous; I’m realizing again that working in social justice is a whole different animal to working in healthcare.  For the most part, (though certainly not all), the patients in my previous work had horrible things happen to them rather by accident; the tumor just appeared one day and grew, or they were injured somehow in a vehicle accident, or their legs just never were quite straight. But here and now, though, the hurt we are trying to prevent and repair is caused not by fate or circumstance but rather by another human being who has lost any and all belief in the value of a human life. We can’t just take the tumor away and give them a new lease on life.  It’s so complicated and heart wrenching and I’m so honored I get to be a part of the solution… at least, I hope I get to.  Please, may it be so. 

~~

It’s after 9pm and we’ve just gotten home; I was greeted by the sweet and playful ‘guard dog’ whose name is nofriend or onefriend or just friend, depending on who you ask. I’m pleased with myself for making it through a long afternoon of meetings without nodding off; jet-lag going east is always worse for me than going west. It was a long day but a full day, my body is weary but my heart is full. I’ve met some great people, I’m hopeful with possibility of making a difference here, I’m excited about the rest of the week and I know this whole thing, this crazy thing, is right.  It will not be easy, but most things in life worth doing aren’t.   

So as I brush my teeth and find my earplugs and crawl under my mosquito-net fortress/canopy bed, I’m filled with nothing but gratitude. I’m so thankful I get to do this, I get to be a part of making the world a little bit better for these kids, to get to put one foot in front of the other here on the far side of the sea, to bring light and speak joy and hope and life to the full. May it be so. 

I bless the rains down in Africa.  Thanks Toto. 



On leaving day, and remembering.

28 April 2018

It’s leaving day! 

What am I feeling? 

More than anything, a sense of relief.  I’ve been planning and dreaming and thinking and strategizing for this for so long… I’m so sick of saying goodbye, I just want to get this show on the road and start bringing some of these dreams into reality.  I’m also doing a lot of remembering. 

Of course I am remembering my first big departure day, when I left home to join the Peace Corps.  It was a new country and new adventure but I was travelling with a whole group of people and it was a very structured arrival into country.  Then when I moved back to the ship a few years later, I was travelling with a team of people I had been in training with for weeks and knew a whole crew of people and structure were waiting for me on the other side of the sea. 

This time it’s different. I’m heading out really mostly solo – a coworker is travelling with me and we’ll be together for the first week in country, but then I’m on my own, leading a team I barely know into new exciting dreams we might not even share yet.  I’ve only met a handful of people on the other side.  I’m really excited but realistic about the fact that it’s going to be hard.  I was saying goodbye to a few friends last week and they were saying “I hope it’s great” and I replied with “I’m hoping for 51% awesome!”.  They got it.  Anyone who has worked overseas for any length of time knows appropriate expectations are necessary and they are almost always too high.  I’m hoping for 51% awesome and any more than that would be total icing. 

I’m also remembering a journal that is in the bottom of a box somewhere in my mothers’ basement. In it, written nearly two decades ago while I was in college at a campus ministry gathering, are the words the speaker asked us to consider: What would it look like to give up everything in trusting God? Can you do that?  My response?  No… I don’t think I can do that, because he might send me to Africa.  At that time I had a very confused concept of God and his goodness and thought that would be the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to me – a punishment of sorts.  Well, here I am, unable to imagine doing anything else, and living in Africa is the place I want to be more than anything. 

So as I cram my last few items into my bags and hope it all makes it to Liberia by tomorrow evening, I’m filled with so much gratitude.  Thank you, friends and family and fellow world changers, for being so supportive of this crazy life I lead. Thank you for being a part of my story.  

xxk


Escape.

27 April 2018


While mindlessly scrolling thru my newsfeed recently, someone (I’m not sure who or what organization or I would give them credit) posted something along these lines: 

Self-care is not about bubble baths and champagne (though those are not bad things).  Self-care is about creating a life you don’t need to escape from. 

It really stuck with me and I’ve been thinking on it a lot lately, especially as I’m embarking on setting up a new life in a new country overseas, and really want to be intentional in keeping it sustainable and healthy, when my determined achiever personality might more naturally jump full speed ahead leading to burnout in six months’ time.  

This week we also had a couple of dedicated staff development days and we were tasked with creating goals and objectives as leaders in our fields.  As I was thinking on this I realized I want a similar ideal for my work and team: I want to create an environment at work where no one feels the need to escape.  I never want to find myself living and longing for weekends and I would be devastated to find out my employees felt that way.  

So it’s a work in progress but here’s some of my initial thoughts on how to do this.  It’s by no means a comprehensive list, and many of these are the ‘minimum’ requirement – more would be ideal! I’d love suggestions or ideas so feel free to comment if you’ve got ‘em! What works for you? 

Personal: 
·     One day completely off from work weekly
·     One day tech-free every two weeks
·     One long weekend off from work and mostly tech-free every quarter
·     Exercise 3-4x/week
·     Dedicated space for meditation/prayer/journaling 5x/week
·     Intentional connection with someone I don’t often connect with weekly, whether by email or phone
·     Make time every week for the podcasts I most enjoy and keep me grounded
·     Make time to read books I enjoy

Professional/team: 
·     Weekly team meetings encouraging collaboration
·     Biweekly individual meetings with each staff member
·     Monthly group outings/meals
·     Once I get my boots on the ground and get to know the team and culture, more of these types of things will hopefully become clear! 

Theoretically, if I put all these things in the calendar in advance, I will be less likely to crash in a few weeks or months!  

Well, it’s T-1 day to departure, so today’s goal is laundry and packing with a final run to the store to pick up some more luggage locks and straps in the hopes all of my worldly goods make it to the far side of the sea.  Wish me luck. 

--Krissy

Yesterday's self-care: Doughnuts and coffee for lunch on the beach. Because #america. 



On courage.

22 April 2018


As I’ve been telling people over the last few weeks and months about what I’m heading back overseas to do, there’s one word that’s consistently used to describe me:  Brave.

In a week I’m moving to a new country West Africa where I’ve only visited for a few days.  I don’t know anyone very well, I don’t really speak the most widely spoken language, I’ll be working in a field I’m not super familiar with, leading a team that doesn’t have any reason to trust me except on faith. I have to figure out everything, from where to buy eggs and bread and shampoo to transportation throughout the city to where to find the best shawarma all while memorizing the names and faces of what feels like zillions of partners and friends and coworkers and fellow humanitarians all working towards making the world a little bit better.

Everyone, it seems, thinks that’s a very brave thing.  But honestly? It’s just me, walking out the life I was created for. It doesn’t feel like taking the massive leap of faith and tapping impossibly deep wells of bravery to do it. 

What’s brave to me and brave to you are entirely different things, based on our stories. 

What I think is incredibly brave?  Committing your life to another person and walking through thick and thin. Having a child and committing to raising them in the world today to be (hopefully) well-adjusted, resilient, strong adults. Getting up every day even through grief, or chronic pain, or loneliness, or challenges I can’t imagine.  It’s putting your art, or your sport, or your passion out there into a world that may not appreciate it.  It’s you. You’re brave. 

God doesn’t give us courage. He gives us opportunities to be courageous. Every.single.day.  Regardless of what we’re doing and where we find ourselves.   My life and calling is no greater, or more brave, or harder than anyone else’s. Reminder: comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t compare your life to mine. 

What’s brave for me? Asking for help.  Admitting I don’t have it all together all the time.  Being okay with feeling deeply.  Going out with a group of mostly strangers.  Putting my whole self out into the world and not becoming who I think others would want me to be. 

It’s true I’m going to have lots of opportunities to be courageous when I move to Liberia in six days, but no more so than anyone moving to any new city.  I’m really excited, more than anything else, which is a good sign. I’m stocking up on really important things like bandaids and granola bars and hoping I can get it all in under my luggage allowance.  I’m enjoying the sunshine that finally made an appearance; Seattle springtimes can be really glorious once the rain stops! 

Anyway, that’s all for today – go out and do something courageous with what you've been given on this day and every day.   

Cheers - Krissy

Seattle springtime is glorious! 




Hopping around.

17 April 2018

It’s gotten to a point where I have so much to write about, I don’t know where to start or how to convey everything I want to… so I end up just putting it off another day.  Which, if you know me, is quite unlike me – I’m usually whatever the opposite of a procrastinator is, and like to get things done and off my plate.  Well, tonight I’m determined to cross “blog” off my to-do list, so will just jump right in with an update on life. 




After a tearful Boston goodbye I flew through a snowstorm in New York on to a beautiful day in Colorado Springs.  Spring-like sunshine and the beauty of Garden of the Gods soothed my weary heart, a welcome space to breathe the season of ends and beginnings.



Reunions with dear friends, several of whom I forgot to take pictures with, reminded my heart that true friendships endure regardless of the years apart or miles in between.  I’m so grateful. 


Then I had the privilege of serving the Ransomed Heart team on the work crew for Captivating, a women’s conference I’ve helped with several times over the years (my first was in 2004!) and got to reconnect with old dear wonderful friends and was blessed immensely with bunches of new beautiful heart friends in just a few days.  I think there’s a whole blog post in me about the weekend that I’ll post eventually, but for now, some of the beauty:



Then it was onward to Seattle, where I’m staying for a few weeks to prepare for the big move to Liberia.  The headquarters of my new organization, Orphan Relief and Rescue, is here and I’m able to get to know the staff here while learning all I can about the programs, processes, and operational procedures before heading over.  It’s been a fruitful time, and a great time to reconnect with Seattle friends and family.


So that’s the practical update at the moment; I leave for Liberia on April 28th, so in less than two weeks I’ll be sweating like crazy and trying to be understood and probably wondering what on earth I was thinking!  But I know it’s right and I’m really excited.  I’ve got about a dozen half-written blog posts about a variety of topics, but now that I’ve gotten this one written maybe they’ll get finished!




Thanks for being a part of my story.  Much love, Krissy
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