2013 began with a completely clean slate for me. No plans, no future, no nothing. While it felt barren and cold it was also a perfect time for new beginnings and facing the unknown. I had put my things in storage and sublet my apartment. I was traveling every week as a nanny and crashing with friends and family on the weekends. I was preparing to do an internship over the summer and while I didn’t have one lined up yet I knew exactly what I wanted. It had to be a paid internship, I wanted it in a big city, out of state but still within the country. I was leaning toward Washington DC.
One day while sitting on the couch at my mom’s simultaneously browsing facebook and visiting with my sister I saw an ad for an internship. I clicked on it and read a bit about it and in that moment I saw my future. I knew this was what came next. It was for a nonprofit organization in Uganda ( I didn’t even know at the time for sure what continent Uganda was on), It was not paid and not in a big city. It was in a small town called Lugazi. I would be working with a group of single mom’s writing their stories, taking pictures and videos of them with their children and writing blog posts about life in the area. It sounded like a dream come true and a perfect escape from the plateau I found myself on.
I saw myself having grand adventures and forgetting all about men, dating, marriage and my seemingly hopeless situation. It would also delay the inevitable move to the mid singles ward. It was perfect. I applied, was accepted, packed my bags and by the first week of May I found myself on a plane headed for Africa. I felt more confident than ever that this was the Lord’s plan for my life at this time. I wondered what I would do or experience there that would be important enough for him to give me such clear direction but I was excited to find out.
Uganda was exotic, exciting and everything I had hoped it would be. My first Sunday there I attended church at the new branch that had just been organized in Lugazi. It was their first meeting in their new chapel. It was small and I felt how much I was needed there. The following Saturday the counselor to the branch president called to ask if I would gather a bunch of the primary children from their homes and take them into JInja to a stake primary program. We would travel by bus about an hour and a half and I would need to teach them to sing a primary song on the way as most of them were so new to the church that they had yet to learn one and each branch was supposed to present something, It was a tall order and came after a difficult night. I wanted to refuse but I said yes and went.
When I was there sitting up front playing the piano for a group of children I saw a man sitting at the very back. His bright smile and the light shining from his eyes caught my attention and I wondered what kind of life he had lived and if he had been happy. I wished that I could know more about him. After the meeting he approached me and introduced himself as Joseph Ssempala. He asked my name and if I was named after Vilate Kimball. We had a short conversation and in the days that followed he called to invite me to go on a date. I went, excited to hear more about him and his life but not thinking that anymore would come of it.
That date was unlike any I had been on. I left it feeling that my life would never be the same. I saw him again and again until I knew that I could never stop seeing him. I wrote a number of blog posts about it. Here are some of my favorites.
We were married that summer and I canceled my plane ticket home. A week or so before the wedding I realized that I should probably give him a heads up about a diagnosis I had received a couple of years earlier of endometriosis. The doctor told me that it usually causes infertility and that if I was able to get pregnant it would probably take some time and effort. I didn’t think it would change his feelings for me or his desire to get married but I thought he should know before taking that step.
I told him and he looked confused. Well thats simple he told me. Either Heavenly Father has children in store for us or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t than he never did and diagnosis or not it wouldn’t make a difference so the way I see it. It makes no difference at all.
The Sunday after we were married I was sitting in RS when I thought I felt the tiniest of shocks as though someone had touched me and released a bit of static electricity and at that moment the thought popped into my mind. “There, now you are pregnant.” Honestly I hadn’t hardly even had time to realize that pregnancy was now an option and I thought surely that s not possible. I thought I would give Joseph a little shock. The next morning as we were lying in bed I said, “What would you say if I told you I think I might be pregnant.”
“I already know” was his response. On Sunday as I was seated in Priesthood meeting a heard a little girls voice say “Daddy Im coming soon.” Then when I woke up this morning and looked at you still sleeping you just looked different and I knew.
Even though we both felt like we knew we had to wait until I had missed a period to take a test. Joseph took me to a clinic as he didn’t know where to buy a home test. The clinic was dingy and dirty and a rude man handed me a dirty cup and told me to go to the outhouse and fill it. As I entered the outhouse huge black cockroaches scurried around oblivious to my presence, there was no light and I couldn’t bear the thought of closing myself in in the dark with all those roaches so I left the door open a crack and trying to balance carefully over the hole in the ground and still make it in the cup while holding the door partially ajar took some skill but I made it happen. I had nothing to wash with and was embarrassed to hand the man back the cup when not all of it had made it inside. He didn’t even notice and took the cup in his bare hands without even blinking. We waited 10 or 15 min and when he still hadn’t come back we went looking for him and found him in an office seated at a desk. We are just wondering about the results of the test we asked.
“There’s nothing there.” he told us.
What do you mean? I asked
“You are not pregnant, there is nothing in there. ” was his rude reply.
We waited a few more days and in the meantime Joseph found a home test. He brought it to me early one morning and sure enough this time it was positive. Here is our announcement. It brings back all those feelings of awe and joy just reading it again.
It took a lot of courage to move forward so quickly with the marriage and to be open to having a baby so quickly, With every step I told myself don’t try to figure it all out. Just take one step. I am so happy that we did. I had waited too long to continue waiting once I had found what I was looking for. Joseph and I have always said if there was a sound track for this time in our lives it would be this.