Liasor and I have been back to work in Oxford for a little over a week now, but we wanted to share some photos and reflections after a wonderful honeymoon vacation in Spain.
Rewinding back to when we were planning our wedding a few months ago, we really loved the idea of going to Spain for our honeymoon because 1) we had met each other in Spain and 2) we had never been back to Spain together since then. But financially, it just wasn't a possibility at the time. We looked at other locations closer to home, but nothing affordable was panning out. We weren't sure what we were going to do about a honeymoon, until one of our close friends gifted us their lake house in the Finger Lakes region of New York for a honeymoon week. We were so blessed by that gift, and I experienced the beauty and the peace of the Finger Lakes for the first time.
We still held onto the idea of one day going on a belated Spanish honeymoon, but we figured it wouldn't happen until maybe a few years down the line. When we found out about our current opportunity to work abroad in Oxford this summer, we were overjoyed and decided that we would try to save up and still make a trip to Spain a possibility (since it would be relatively closer and cheaper to travel to Spain once we were in Europe). And this month, we made the trip happen!
We started out with a week in Granada, the city where we met. (For the story of how we met, check out our wedding website here). During our time in Granada, I took a day trip to Córdoba (where I taught for a year from 2013-2014) to visit former colleagues and friends. The year that I taught abroad in Córdoba was the first time Liasor and I experienced international long distance. (For former blog posts on my time teaching in Córdoba, check our my travel page here). Finally we ended our Spanish honeymoon in the beach city of Alicante, a city that Liasor had visited before and wanted to experience again with me.
It was so great to take a break from cozy, chilly Oxford and soak up the sun and <extreme> heat of Spain.
Here are images from our 10-day vacation.
Our time in Granada was so sweet. I really enjoyed walking through memories: from taking our old route to school together to meeting up with former teachers and church family members - our hearts were completely full. We even accidentally ran into my former host mother, Camila, who was taking a walk in my old neighborhood. It was so good to run into her! She immediately took us to her house and we had a lovely evening laughing and catching up together. She and her family vividly remembered Liasor and how he used to meet me at the front door of their apartment. They were thrilled that we are now married.
Oh Córdoba. The city where I grew so much on my own. It was good to be back and meet up with people I care about, but I realized that I have less of an emotional attachment to this city. After a long, hot, full day of meeting up with friends and colleagues, I almost felt relieved to head back to Granada. When the bus pulled into the station and the driver announced that we were back in Granada, I felt a strong sense of familiarity rush through me. Homecoming. Back in the city of my love story. Even though I lived in Córdoba for a longer time than Granada, this trip allowed me to reflect on how much more Granada means to me and how much my time in both cities contributed to my life narrative. In Granada, I had been much more plugged into a church family, which is one of the main ways Liasor and I grew closer back in 2012.
The pictures below show my favorite tea shop in Córdoba where I used to go when I needed to get away from it all, the street that I lived on (called Mucho Trigo, which means 'a lot of wheat'!), and the door to my old flat.
We ended our trip with a few days in Alicante, Spain on the beach. It was so nice to finally make it to the beach after a mild summer in Oxford. Overlooking the beachfront in Alicante is the Castillo de Santa Barbara (castle). Liasor and I went on quite an arduous hike to get to the castle, and later we found out that there was an elevator that most tourists take and we also found out that there was an easier route to the top that we had missed. But our longer, harder trek allowed us to witness some of the most breathtaking views at sunset.
Now we have one more week in Oxford.
In my last post, I mentioned that there has been unrest in the refugee camps along the Ethiopian/South Sudanese border which we were planning to visit. Because of that unrest and uncertainty, we've decided it will be best for Liasor to go on to Ethiopia alone while I return to the States. I'm saying a special prayer for Liasor's safety as he heads to Ethiopia. I'm also praying for open doors for partnerships and meetings on behalf of Uduk Hope Inc. I'm proud of the work he is doing, and just this past weekend Liasor got the great opportunity to present at the Society for the Study of the Sudans U.K. 2017 Symposium held at the University of London. He was the first person from the Blue Nile region, and more specifically the first Uduk person, to present at this conference. He spoke on the complex relationships that affect the state of the Blue Nile refugees and offered thoughts on the way forward. It was a moving and powerful speech. Liasor was only notified of this opportunity to speak a week in advance while we were on our honeymoon in Spain! He did a great job no matter the time constraints, and I know he will continue to fight to find ways to stand up for and support the Uduk people and other Blue Nile refugees. I recorded his presentation and I will either try to post the video in my next blog post or he will post the video on his personal Facebook page.
There will definitely be challenges ahead since we'll be spending several weeks apart so I am truly thankful that we were able to spend such a beautiful time together in Spain and I look forward to savoring this last week together in Oxford.
Happy Labor Day!! September is finally here, which marks our last month working in Oxford. But currently we're in Spain for a short vacation and belated honeymoon trip!! We've just arrived, but before unplugging from social media I wanted to share a few updates from the past few weeks.
-We've been working hard on translating and cataloging Dr. Wendy James' work and we're getting closer to setting up a digital archive. The work is extremely interesting and engaging, but we find ourselves exhausted each night after full days of translating for Liasor and editing and cataloging for me. But with a month left, we're trying to work even harder to get as much done as possible before we leave. I've been learning so much from this work, and this project has given me the chance the dive deeper into books and resources on Sudan and South Sudan along with information and archives on the Uduk people. It's been a rich learning experience that has also brought up tough questions surrounding global power dynamics and the authority and authorship of history. But more on that some other time.
-We've also been working hard casting vision for Uduk Hope, making plans on building a stronger organizational team, and designing an exciting venture for Uduk Hope that we'll hopefully get to implement in 2018, Lord willing. Please be praying for direction and for the blessing of project grants.
-Finally, we've been thinking a lot about jobs for when we get back to Rochester!
We've gotten a lot closer to our church community here and the pastor asked us to speak to the congregation about Uduk Hope on Sunday September 17th, so please be praying about that. We're looking forward to sharing.
We've also gotten very close to a Ghanaian couple at church and we've spent time at their house enjoying great conversations. I know we'll stay in contact long after our time here. They gave us a tour of the town of Iffley where they live on the outskirts of Oxford. It was such a beautiful town!
We also got to visit Cotswold Wildlife Park with Wendy and it was fun seeing the gardens and the animals.
Then my dear college friend, Bettina and her husband Will came to visit us in Oxford, which was one of the highlights of August for me. We had a wonderful, relaxing day catching up and visiting good places for food and drink.
Here are some photos featuring Liasor's awesome iPhone photography skills:
Hard Decisions For Our Upcoming Trip To Ethiopia:
We've been excited about traveling to Ethiopia in October, but recently we've received news that there is unrest in the refugee camps we're hoping to visit. We're trying to decide whether we should still go, whether it would be best to return to the States, or if I should return to the States while Liasor continues on to Ethiopia for a short while to visit the people including family and make much needed connections with organizations on the ground.
Please be praying about our decision and that the unrest in the camps would calm down. I would love to visit Ethiopia; it's been a lifelong dream to go and now it's also important for Uduk Hope. But although we feel safe traveling to the cities of Addis and Assosa, the fact that the refugee camps (Tongo, Sherkole, Tsore) are unstable makes us really wrestle with our next steps.
As I mentioned we are currently in Spain to spend 10 days for our vacation and belated honeymoon. We're starting out in the city of Granada where we first met in 2012. This is our first time back in Granada together since the days that we fell for each other. I can't wait to step into nostalgia together and make new memories in a city that means so much to both of us. I haven't stopped smiling since we stepped off the plane!
From Granada, I'll be taking a day trip to Córdoba, the city where I taught for a year between college and grad school. It'll be great reconnecting with friends, students, and fellow teachers. I can't wait! That trip will have a great amount of nostalgia for me as well. We'll end our trip in the beach city of Alicante. I've never been to Alicante, but Liasor has once before and he's excited to show it to me.
Here are some quick shots of our hotel. I love Andalusian architecture!
That's all the updates for now! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!
Until next time,