Top Ten Moments of 2016…

IMG_12301. Our Wedding…what else do I need to say! I married the love of my life and have been enjoying the past seven months of marital bliss…and we were touched by all the friends that traveled from the US, Europe, Thailand, Kenya, South Sudan and Nigeria to celebrate with us!

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2. Vartan and Lauren’s Wedding…Vartan has been a great friend for the past thirteen years…he slept on my couch for three months and I ate all his mom’s food when I visited California in 2012. We started down the road to marriage around the same time and married our sweethearts within two months of each other.

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3. Honeymoon in the Seychelles…I always wanted to go to the beautiful islands of the Seychelles and what better way then on my honeymoon. As with many of our trips this year, it came about at the last minute but it was amazing and fantastic. Sheila and I are looking forward to our return trip very soon.

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4. My parents on the African continent…if it wasn’t for my wedding this would have been the top moment of 2016. My parents put their fear and concern aside and made the journey to Nigeria and Rwanda. I know that they were overwhelmed by their surroundings and completely out of their comfort zone but they were quite the troopers. As my Nigerian colleagues say, “they tired oooh…” I’ll never forget when we were flying to Lagos, my dad asked if we were arriving in Kigali, when I told him no, he asked, “are we driving to Kigali..” he had no clue what to expect from the African continent!

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5. Sheila’s mom in the US/Alabama Reception…Sheila’s mom almost stole the show in Mount Vernon with her mushanana (traditional dress of Rwandan women) and heart felt speech about her daughter getting married. Like my parents, it was her first time on a transcontinental flight and the first time to the US.

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6. A new Barnes set to arrive in 2017…my brother and sister-in-law we quick to tell me that my African wedding was interrupting their baby schedule. But we were informed on Christmas Day that a new Barnes would be joining the family in July 2017.

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7. Meeting Sheila’s grandmother…Sheila’s grandmother is a ball of energy. She fell in love with me on our first meeting event though we can’t communicate…but that doesn’t stop her from chatting with me, even when no one is around to translate. In my recent visit to her house, she could not stop looking at our Gusaba photo and make comments. She is such a delight to be around.

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8. Sheila’s first Auburn football game…it was a cold day for an Auburn football game which also dampened Sheila’s mood. While I always enjoy watching Auburn toss around the pigskin, by the end of the first quarter, we were both ready to leave. We managed to the end of half time but had to leave to warm up!

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9. The Cape Coast Castle in Ghana…You should check out my blog from my trip to the slave castle in Ghana. It was a moving experience and I am reminded each and every day the sacrifice my ancestors made to just get by…

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10. New Year’s Eve in Cyprus…Sheila and I were suppose to be in Thailand but I waited to the last minute to purchase our airline tickets! Instead, we ended up in Cyprus and I am so glad it worked out this way. North Cyprus is an amazing place with Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman ruins scattered across the northern portion of the island. We chose North Cyprus because Sheila didn’t need a visa to enter because the unrecognized “country” is affiliated with Turkey (South Cyprus, also known as the Republic of Cyprus is divided by a line of demarcation managed by the UN). We had an amazing – cultural experience ringing in the New Year. One of the best decisions of 2016! Thanks to my YouTube friend Kara and Nate for recommending North Cyprus!

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