Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Penny for my Thoughts


I have officially been in Africa for 3 months now. Crazy, I know.

Basically this is just going to be about how I am feeling right now. With 3 months behind me and just 1 to go.

Today I was really hit by a feeling of disconnectedness (not sure if that is a word) from everyone back home. I am really content being here with the new friends that I have made. However, it really stinks that I've had to pretty much abandon everyone back in the States to make this a reality. I just realized that I am missing big events in people's lives and it made me sad. Sad that I am not there, but also sad that I don't know what is occurring in people's lives. Maybe it is my fault for not communicating enough, but I really fell like I don't know at all what is going on with the people I really care about. It is nice to be fully present here and not worrying about things going on back home, but I want to know what is happening because that is my life. Uganda is awesome, but I am going to be going back to life in Clay Center/Siloam Springs next month. Anyway, I'm not sure that these ramblings make much sense. Let's move on.

With regards to the semester, I am feeling so extremely confused and frustrated. At the beginning of the semester Mark told us that the program was about creating tension and not necessarily giving us simple answers in pretty packages. It seems that there are so many conflicting ideas that we are being presented with. I'm not really sure how to deal with it all. I find myself wanting something practical. I want the pretty package that I can use myself and give to all my friends and family back home. But I am pretty sure that will not be my Christmas present. I am learning so much but I'm more confused than when I started. Ugh.

I am also feeling a strange combination of homesickness and not wanting the semester to end. I am so ready to see everyone again, to eat American food, to have flushing toilets, to take warm showers, etc., etc. However, I am starting to realize just how much I will miss things here once I leave. It was so hard to leave my family just going to rural homestays for a week. It will be so much harder to leave them knowing that I will probably never see them again. It is also going to be ridiculously hard to leave the students that I am studying with. We have been planning reunions and times to see each other already. However, I think we all know that we will probably not all be together again come December 15. That is such a sad thought because we are so close right now. I love all of these people and I'm not sure how I am going to leave them.

Ok. Those are my thoughts.

Love you all. See you in just over a month!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Overeating and a gomez

Hello again.

I know you weren't expecting an update so soon...but you get one. Enjoy.

1.) On Friday 5 of us went to Kampala for a missionary dinner. It was with a former USP student, so it was really cool talking to her about her experiences with the program and how she ended up coming back to Uganda. We ate some pretty amazing food as well. Pasta, alfredo sauce, meat sauce, broccoli salad, breadsticks, and, my favorite, some peanut butter/chocolate dessert. It was absolutely heavenly. I think all of us ate way more than we were used to just because the food was sooooo amazing. Dean had to get up and go to the bathroom at the end of the meal because he thought he was going to throw up all of the amazingness. Holly, upon entering the van, said that no one could throw up because then everyone probably would. And that was the truth. However, though a little country sing-along, we made it home with all of the lovely American food still in our stomachs.

When I got home, it was about 10:30. My family goes to bed at around 9:30 usually, so I wasn't quite sure what would happen. Agnes opened the door for me, I went in to the living room, and saw mama and Dokas asleep on the couch. I thought that was a bit odd and tried to make some noise to wake them up and let them know that I was home. I was unsuccessful and went to my room to sleep. In the morning, mama came in and was quite shocked to see me there. Apparently, she had finally gone to bed at about 1:00 thinking I had not come in. She was getting ready to call someone in the program to see what the deal was. Interesting evening.

2.) Saturday morning I made chapati. I find it quite hilarious that I am the only one in the family who knows how to make chapati and I am the mzungu. It took so long because I made so much. Meanwhile, mama was washing my clothes for me. I still have not had to wash my own clothes. It is quite convenient. I help rinse. Hehe.

3.) Saturday evening we went to a wedding reception. I wore a gomez, which is the traditional Ugandan garment. It was sooooo difficult. Mama had to come in and help me put it on. There are so many layers and I really don't understand how anyone puts that on alone. Everyone was very excited to see a mzungu in a gomez. I received so many comments. I think they really appreciated it. The reception was good. There were not too many speeches, which was really nice. We ate there and the people serving gave me the largest portions. I also experienced eating with my hands for the first time. Interesting experience.

4.) Sunday morning I went to a different church with my family. My father had been invited to a church across town to conduct the service for Mother's Union Day. Mama, Tata and I all went to the home of one of the Kabaka's officials for tea first. Then we went to the church. It was quite interesting. The service was in Luganda, but mama translated for me. The person preaching was using the wife of noble character passage. Mama kept translating it as 'the careful wife'. She then used Esther as a positive example of a careful wife. Vashti was a negative example because she refused to go when her husband called her. This apparently justified the king's actions. The gender roles here are very interesting.

5.) Sunday evening we went to Kampala to see cultural dancing. It was really amazing. At one point the women balanced pots on their heads. Some were dancing around with eight pots stacked on their heads. It was ridiculously awesome. We also got to go down on the stage and have our own dance party for a few minutes. It was a good night.

Ok, I'm running out of time. Those are the highlights of the past week. We only have 5 weeks left, which is so crazy. Love you all and see you soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rural Homestays, etc.

Hey guys! Yes. I know. I am TERRIBLE at updating this. Sorry. But here is a quick recap of the past month, with an emphasis on the past week.

1.) I went rafting up the Nile!! It was sweet. And quite terrifying. But we all lived to tell the story. I would suggest reading Dean's blog ( for a great description of the events of that day. He was on my raft and tells the story quite well. He even includes the highlight of my day...dominating the second rapid as everyone else flips out. This following their making fun of me for being the only one to fall out on the first rapid and my teasing that next time they would all fall out and I would stay in. Bahaha. It was a really great time.

2.) We went on a weekend trip to Luweero which was pretty great. We were able to meet a Father Gerry, a Catholic priest. We learned about his ministry in the rural areas of Luweero and then attended a Catholic service at his church the following morning. It was actually really amazing, even though the entire service was in Lusoga and untranslated for the most part. We were also able to visit a Compassion International center to play with the kids there and witness their Saturday activities. It was really interesting to see what our money actually goes toward. Finally, we went to visit the Bishop of the diocese. It was a long weekend, but I really enjoyed it.

3.) I have really been enjoying my time here lately. I am finally comfortable with my family and that has been a great relief. They are amazing and I really love coming home to them every evening. Dokas makes my day. We are now "good friends". I carried her to the clinic a few weeks ago with Mama and the lady at the clinic was so surprised that she was so friendly with the mzungu. The other children are also warming up to me. Their friends sometimes come over as well and we play together. They are trying to teach me some words in Luganda. I have a couple pages full of words that they wrote for me yesterday that I need to study.

4.) Everyone in my home has been sick with malaria in the past few weeks. It has been a bit nerve-racking knowing that those mosquitoes have been in the house. However, I have been taking my medication religiously and sleeping under my net, so hopefully I will stay healthy. Many of my friends have gotten parasites. It does not seem pleasant and I am so thankful that I have remained healthy thus far.

5.) Hanna and I journeyed to Kampala a few weeks ago. It was great. We hopped a taxi and rode to town. That was an adventure. We ate at New York Kitchen which was great American food. Then we went to Nakumat which was so exciting. It was a little taste of America. Basically a scaled down version of Wal-mart. We also went to a market to shop for gifts. It was so much fun. Finally, we hopped a taxi back to Mukono. Great experience, and we survived!

6.) This past week we went to Kapchorwa in eastern Uganda for rural homestays. It is absolutely beautiful. From my home we could see Mt. Elgon. The scenery was exquisite. I was paired with Hanna for the week, which was a blessing. We stayed in a home with Mama Dorothy and her four girls, ranging from five years old to ten years old. Our four brothers were all away at school. Mama was so crazy. She did so much work. Her husband works as a policeman in western Uganda, so he is not around. Neither are the boys, and the girls are at school during the day. She cares for the cattle, goats, chickens, etc. all alone. She would come home carrying two matooke trees on her head as feed for the cattle. It was definitely different than farming in the States.

It was also interesting to hear mama's comments and questions about the US. She was pretty convinced that there weren't leaves, smoke, or mud in the US. We were asked if we had seen the queen to which we replied that we did not have a queen but a president. She then realized that Obama was our president and got very excited. Obama is soooooo admired here. You have no idea. She started singing a song about him and then asked about the African American that came with our group. Apparently Adeline had told them about Manny at orientation and they called him "The Obama". He was quite the celebrity.

Anyway, it was an alright week. Hanna and I had a lot of free time because Mama had so much to do and it was raining a good deal of the time. We helped her with some things, but I think we both wish we would have been allowed to do more. Oh well. We learned a lot nonetheless.

7.) The past couple days we have spent at Sipi Falls. It is basically the most gorgeous place I have ever seen. There are three waterfalls there and we were staying up on a cliff that overlooked all three. On Saturday we were able to go hiking to all of the falls. It was ridiculously awesome. Pictures cannot describe the beauty. On Sunday morning we hiked up to the top of a mountain and had a worship service while viewing the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Our God is great.

8.) I'm back in Mukono!!!! You have no idea how excited I am to be back. How I have missed this place.

9.) I will be home in about a month and a half. I have mixed emotions. I am very ready to be back in the States and see you all again. However, I will miss the friends I have made here and especially my family. Oh well, I don't have to think about this for a few weeks.

This does not even begin to describe the past month, but it's a start. You should also check out Hanna's blog. She has so many more details about what we have been up to.

Well, I love and miss you all. Cannot wait to see you again.

Oh, and I love to hear about life back home...hint hint.