Hey guys. I realize that I have been doing a very poor job at keeping this up to date. I apologize. Here is my attempt to re-cap the past 3 weeks:
1) Leaving Kenya was so incredibly hard. I cannot begin to express teh level of hospitality and kindness we were shown over our 2 weeks there. I attempted to pull an all-nighter to make the most of my last few hours in Nairobi, but failed and gave in to sleep at about 6:00 am. I then woke up to pack at about 8 and we left for the airport at around 10. It was so hard to say good-bye, but, alas, I will hopefully see them all again.
2.)Kate and I arrived in Entebbe, Uganda at around 2 and had to wait at the airport until the group flight arrived at 8. Right after Kate and I sat down at a table to wait, two other girls from the program showed up. We hung out until the group finally arrived. I was so exhausted and not exactly in the mood to wait any longer. We finally left and arrived in Mukono at UCU at about midnight. I was dead tired and went to bed ASAP.
3.) The next morning we had to be up at 8. It was ridiculous. We sat through some general orientation and then the IMME (homestay) students had homestay orientation. Following that, we gathered our things and were dropped off at our homestays. I was so incredibly nervous, expecially once I discovered that I would be alone (most people are paired). I got to my home and found that I had 3 siblings: Isaac (7 years), Deborah (6 years), and Dokas (9 months). My mother is a teacher and my father is a postor. There is also a housekeeper (Agnes) and an aunt (Josephine) who live with us. The first day was incredibly awkward. I don't think it helped that I was exhausted as well as not feeling well. However, my mom is very talkative and helped the situation immensely.
4.) The following day we did more orientation things. We also traveled to Kampala. There we went to Garden City (a mall) as well as some famous tombs. It was the palace of one of the Buganda kings back in the late 1800's. 3 former Buganda kings are buried at this site. (Buganda is the area of Uganda that we are in) It was an interesting taste of Ugandan culture. However, I ended up getting equite a bad headache. I wasn't able to eat more than a couple bites of dinner (which is slightly offensive) and had to go to bed early. My mom was very worried and equite relieved when I seemed to be much improved in the morning.
5.) The next day (Friday) we brought our things to campus for the next week that we would be spending in Rwanda. The departure time for our trip was 5:00 am Saturday morning, so we spent the night on campus because it is not safe to walk in the dark. We did orientation things again all day, and retired early.
6.) Ok, so during this entire time I was having a really rough time adjusting. I really did not want to be here and really desired to board a plane either back to Kenya or to the US. There was a section in the orientation notebook about refunds for leaving the program early that I actually considered. (I'm quite better now and taking things one day at a time)
7.) Saturday morning we left for Rwanda. After just a couple hours of driving we stopped to take photos at teh Equator. We then continued on our 11 hour journey. We crossed the border at about 3 and arrived at our destination of Gahini at around 5. While we were waiting for dinner, we spklit up in to our assigned church groups. Each group was to attend a separate church service the following morning. We were preparing because we were expectedd to play a significant role in the service. They told us we neededd someone to give a sermon, someone to give a testimony, and to have songs prepared to sing.
8.) The next morning we attended a rural Anglican church. We got there late and were ushered to the front of the church to sit on the stage. We each introduced ourselves and were warmly greeted by the congregation. The service consisted of a great deal of music (much in the Rwandan language), some speaking (also hard to understand), a sermon by Josh on servanthood, and some songs sung by us. The most interesting part of the service was when the congregation welcomed back a member who had been kicked out of the church becuase she had become pregnant while she was unmarried. We all thought it was the offering because people were all coming up and giving her money. Following the service, Davis played the drum and we danced with the children. Then we ate food that the pastor's wife had prepared. It was really a great day.
9.) Monday morning we had a couple of speakers come talk to us about the East African revival, which had actually begun in Gahini, very near where we were staying. One of teh women had been there when it started. It was great to hear her story. Furthermore, she had lived through the genocide and was the only surviving member of her family. We heard her talk of her faith despite all of the terrible things that she had been through. Her story was just a precursor to the things we would see and hear the remainder of the week.
9.) That afternoon we left for Kigali. Once there we went to teh Nyamata church memorial, which was probably the most difficult and impactful experience of the week for many of us. 10,000 people were brutally murdered in this location. The man that was giving us the tour gave us very detailed descriptions of the events that occured and the killing techniques used. I was very skeptical, until he informed us that he was one of only 7 survivers. His name was Charles and he was only 8 in 1994 at the time of the genocide. His entire family was killed at the church while he was able to hide amidst the corpses. I very much admired his courage in tellingn his story over and over. There really aren't words to describe the experience.
10.) Tuesday morning we went to teh official genocide memorial. It was another rough day. there is a mass grave of about 300,000 people on side as well as general genocide information and information concerning the Rwanda genocide in particular. The hardest part for me was the children's section. There were photos of children along with information about them and how they died. I just could not fathom the brutality with which these innocent children were slaughtered. We also watched a movie called Ghosts of Rwanda which emphasized the world's falure during the situation. It angered and confused me because I honestly don't know what should have been done. It's easy to say that what was done was insufficient, but it is harder to determine a better course of action.
11.) While in Rwanda we spent a good deal of time learning about reconciliation and forgiveness as well. We learned about the gacaca courts and their success. There have been over 1 million casees tried and they are set to wrap up in September. We also heard of all the challenges facing the Rwandese. Such a great percentage of teh population did kill during the genocide. Now the families of the victims are expected to live in harmony with the killers. Reconciliation is necessary because of their reliance on one another. It is simply amazign to me the capacity of these people to forgive.
12.) We also heard from quite a few missionaries in Rwanda doing anything from business as mission to transformational development. I won't go in to detail.
13.) The last 2 days of the trip we spent on an island in a lake in southwest Uganda debriefing. It was incredibly beautiful. We had a cottage overlooking the lake. It was nice to take some time to just chill before diving in to classes. We were also able to further process our Rwanda experiences. I think we all had a pretty swell time.
14.) The Rwanda trip was also a great bonding time for our group. The IMME students traveled separately from the USE. It was good to have a smaller group so that we could get to know each other better. There are some really cool people here that I am looking forward to getting to know more throughout the semester. We also were able to meet a few UCU students. They are really great and I enjoy seeing familiar non-mzungu faces around campus. (mzungu=white person)
15.) The food in Randa was also pretty amazing. No matoke all week! We had chips at every meal, which was awesome. At the resort place we stayed at the final 2 days, we were served chapati both nights. If you don't know what chapati is, you are missing out. One night we had chapati and guacamole. It was heavenly.
Ok. So that is the jest of Rwanda and the couple days preceding. There is so much more I could say, but this is long enough. I will continue with the first week of classes as soon as I get teh chance. Love you all!