The plan was to get home on Dec 1 from Africa and then party the next day for my birthday (that was my plan, anyway.)
Then we almost missed our flight from London and literally had to do the run to the terminal with our hands out saying "hold the plane!!" and praying they would.
Luckily they did (even though I got there way before mom and christopher because after all the running and getting on the train and all of that they went to the WRONG TERMINAL. Luckily I made it).
Needless to say, we made it with zero time to spare and I got to be home for my birthday.
I woke up to balloons in my mantle from Vic and Rachel and it was such a perfect way to start my day!
And while I was gone Jeff and the kids hung lights in the back yard and the rainbow that Jeff and I had bought when we were in Comfort, Texas (that practically weighs 400 pounds).
 Jeff got the solo stove all heated and ready to go and we moved tables outside and played games and ate pizza.  It was very last minute, but fun.
 I made everyone look at all of my africa photos and videos.

 We stayed by the fire until like 2 and then up until 4 when Jeff told me he had to go bed.
Then I got bangs and loved my life.
I am so thankful for this year.  It has been so hard in so many ways, but it has taught me so much.  Last year on my birthday I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed.  I cried all the time and just was at such a low point in my depression.  This year I felt so alive.  I would like to thank wellbutrin, the Lord, Jeff and my friends who listened to me when I went round and round in my head (and out loud) with the same thoughts that I couldn't move away from.  I am thankful to have gone through it, and even to still struggle with it in some way, because now I understand depression.  I felt so much shame and wanted to pretend it wasn't there, but there was no way for me to do that.  I knew so many people going through so many terrible things that I just thought I could work out or eat healthy or do something to help me see how amazing my life was.  But it just doesnt work that way.  I have always been supportive of people who take medicine for it, but struggled to get on it myself until I felt like I had exhausted every other resource.  But since I have been on meds, I have just been able to be myself again. I feel miles away from last years birthday and I could not be more thankful (**pops wellbutrin into mouth and washes it down with cold coffee).



Getting the opportunity to go to Kenya with Caris Foundation was absolutely a highlight of my life.
It took us 36 hours to get there and when we got there they greeted us with an amazing song and dance to welcome us.
Every friday they do a Bible study together where they talk about one verse and everyone goes around and says what they think the verse means and what it means to them.

Meeting everyone was just such an honor and getting to hear their hearts was so incredible.
Then we went out into the field and met some of the girls in the TTG groups (finance groups) where they are learning how to support their families with different types of jobs, save their money and pay back the small loans Caris has given them.  They loan money to each other and work together to support themselves and each other.  It is just incredible.
They are also learning to read and write.  One of the girls who Caris has taught to read volunteers her time to come and teach the ladies who can stay after their TTG groups meet every week.

This is Elda.  She is an amazing woman and I am so grateful to have met her.  She grows these crops and sells them in the marketplace.  She has rented a pump and dug ditches for pipes to pump the water from a near by river to her crops. I can not imagine doing that much work every day.  She is saving to by her own pump so she can rent it to other people and make money off of that.
Next to her is Edward who is in charge of the ag section at Caris and is helping her with any problems she has with her crops.

We also got to be a part of their end of year dinner and it was just a blast.  Everyone in Africa knows how to party and sing and dance and it was so much fun getting to see all that they do at work and also how much fun they have together outside of work.
The last day we were there was the celebration for all the women in the Caris programs.
They all walked from wherever they live, it could be miles away, and celebrated all that they have accomplished this year.  Caris gave out awards to TTG groups, to individuals who had saved the most money or made the most or grew the most crops, etc.  It was so much fun watching them recognized for all of their hard work and watch them just have fun together.
It started the moment we got out of the car.  They knew mom and Christopher were in charge and they just ran to the car and danced them to the ceremony.  It was the best entrance I have ever had for sure.
This is Mom with one of the original single moms that went through the caris program and has now graduated from the program and supporting herself and her family.
They even had an awesome Photo Booth that we took advantage of on our way out.  We didnt get to stay for the whole dinner because we had to get catch our flight.
We made it in the nick of time and flew to Nairobi where we had dinner at a fun restaurant and processed the trip.  They happened to be hosting a party for someone famous and there were camera crews outside doing interviews.  We felt a little under dressed but luckily no one noticed and we got to go in anyway.
 I taught Christopher to knit and he made a hat on the way home and to say I was excited was definitely an understatement.
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