Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bittersweet Bath of Life

Hello Friends and Family,

For this, my last blog from Uganda, I thought I would actually let y'all read some of my final paper for a class here. It pretty much sums up much of what I have learned this Semester. Of course, if I were to try and say all I have learned it would take years, it will take years. So here is a small part.


I am wholly broken. People are broken. Humanity is broken. It has been this way since at least the fall of man, though sometimes I wonder if we were created broken. The beginning of our brokenness is beside the point, however. The point is we are broken. It took me a long time to come to this realization, and once I did I hated it. This semester I have again and again been confronted with human brokenness and each time I have hated it. My instinct in the face of brokenness is flight; turn the other way and run far and fast from it. There have been so many times when I have wanted to run from brokenness this semester. Even as I write this I am fighting a massive urge to run away from a broken reality I have been confronted with. However, if I have learned anything this semester it is that there is a third option. Though they are my instincts, fighting or fleeing are not the only options. The third option is patience; sitting through the shit, letting it wash over me as the grace of Christ, in the hopes of coming out on the other side a new creation.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog on patience in relation to the chapter on patience in Compassion. In my blog, I reflected on what patience actually means and how it is an active discipline, not a passive virtue. The authors of Compassion state, “Patience means to enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the suffering within and around us. Patience is the capacity to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell as fully as possible the inner and outer events of our lives” (93). Patience is the third option. Patience asks me to stay in my brokenness and in my family’s brokenness, to experience it fully and with every sense allow it to wash over me. This is terrifying.

In Rwanda, after visiting the Nyamata memorial site (a church were 10,000 people were slaughtered over 3 days), wanted to flee. I didn’t even need to hear the story to feel this pressure of explosive emotions and itching need to run. It was enough to see the bullet holes and piles of clothing, to smell the rotting bones and know deep in me that brokenness was the cause. It took a great deal of restraint mixed with a touch of numbness to remain in the church and hear the blow-by-blow account of what happened. For days after that experience I wanted to flee back to the U.S. and hide from one of the most horrific accounts of human brokenness I have come into contact with. Brokenness scares me and sends me into a panic. Why? What is so terrifying about it that I need to run from it?

My first real encounter with human brokenness happened when I was 17 and my parents split up. It took years for me to finally be able to accept the broken state of my parents. In fact, I still have a hard time accepting this. What has been hardest to accept is that it is a permanent condition; while on this earth, my parents will never be unbroken. This means it will always be challenging to be in relationship with them.

Growing up, I lived in what I thought was a perfect family. I also thought I matured early and was pretty good at being in relationships with people. My life was whole and unblemished, or so I thought. I didn’t know until later in life that this isn’t a possible reality, nor was it ever my actual reality. In the words of Switchfoot, “My world is wrong / My world is a lie that’s come true.” The world I lived in was a lie. It was a world of perfection. My perfect world blew up in my face, though, and brought me abruptly into reality. Reality meant not only seeing my family’s brokenness but my own as well. I saw my lack of maturity, host of insecurities, and many shortcomings in relationships. This terrified me because I had no tools to deal with brokenness, nor was I prepared to live in a broken world. I was scared of being broken myself and of never feeling whole and complete.

I had reached a point before this semester of feeling able to sit in my brokenness and not flee in panic. I thought I was through the labor of learning to live with it, but I was wrong. In a sense I had done this, but in reality I had only learned to resist the temptation to literally flee. I still found ways to flee from brokenness within myself. In Dan Allender’s book, To Be Told, he says, “To turn away from, rather than embrace and learn from, tragedy is a double loss. We lose not only in the original harm, but we add to that harm by closing our heart.… If we face our tragedies with an open heart, we will become more tender toward ourselves and others” (87). I was still facing tragedy with a closed heart. I thought it was the only way to survive tragedy, because if I left my heart open it would mean fully experiencing the tragedy I found myself in the midst of. Fully experiencing the sorrow, anguish and injustice of what had happened to my family, to Rwandans, meant death in my heart and mind. I thought it would kill me.

However, while reading Compassion, I started to wonder if this was the case. Would I actually die if I let myself be fully immersed in the present sorrow? Or is it my desperation to escape the sorrow that causes me to fear it in such a way? I started to wonder what would happen if I instead chose to stay in the tragedies of my life and of other people’s lives. Would this be life-giving or life-taking?

Surrounding all of these thoughts is the ever-present tug on my heart that I think is my calling. The tug is towards knowing, naming and feeding. I ache to be known fully by those close to me, and this ache has been translating into a passion to really know people. Not in a share-your-life-story way, but more of a what’s-in-your-heart way. In being known people are restored and life is given.

Naming goes hand-in-hand with being known. In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door, Naming is a calling given to people. The role of a Namer is described as follows: “A Namer has to know who people are, and who they are meant to be” (97). A Namer fights against Un-naming, that is, taking away from a person everything that makes them uniquely them. Knowing a person is vitally important to naming them and helping them see everything that makes them uniquely who they are.

In relation to both of those is feeding. I love cooking and I love feasting with people. I also believe that in feasting around a table life is given and shared; literally in the food, but metaphorically in the trust and love passed around. Feasting with people requires a certain level of trust and often vulnerability. I find no greater satisfaction than sitting around a table with my family or close friends eating warm and colorful food and relating the events that have shaped our lives in recent days.

Each of these callings requires me to be present: present with myself, with those in my life, and with God. This is fine when I am content, happy and have a full stomach. But what happens when the cupboards are empty, the family is in shambles, and the world feels like it will literally crumble around me at any moment? Those are the moments when fight or flight takes over, and you do what you must to survive. In those situations what happens if I take the third option: patience?

The authors of Compassion say, “But what really counts is that in the moments of pain and suffering someone stays with us. More important than any particular action or word of advice is the simple presence of someone who cares” (13). Shortly after finding out some hard news, I sat behind IMME quarters (where off-campus students hang out), playing guitar, hoping the song I was singing would somehow take away the grief and remove me from the brokenness staring me in the face. Drew Duffy wandered back there and sat down. He hadn’t brought a computer or a book or a notebook. It was just him. And he sat with me for a long time; sometimes we would talk or play a song, a lot of it was sitting in silence. I was wrestling with the tragedy in my heart and soul, and he was present with me.

Similarly, on Ssese Island, I was again in a place of extreme vulnerability, puking and shaking with fever. This time it was Brian who stayed with me; for a long time, as I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t, he read A Wind in the Door to me. I have rarely felt so completely cared for than in these two moments of tragedy and suffering. Drew and Brian both chose patience in those moments. They knew I was suffering, and they could have run from it. Pappa God knows I wanted to! But they sat with me, not trying to fix it or take it away, just sitting with me and letting the shit wash over me, leaving me a new creation. That had more impact on my heart than a cliché phrase ever could.

In my life, I will be faced again and again with brokenness. I see that now, and I still hate it. I hate knowing that “each person living in a fallen world will encounter abandonment, betrayal, and shame” (Allender 76). My heart sometimes breaks with this knowledge. However, I have learned that I do not have to flee or fight in the face of brokenness. I can stand in it, be it my own or another’s, and patiently face the horrors of it in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the world, letting the love of God mix in with it and create a bittersweet bath of life.

See you on the other side!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A bit of nostalgia

Hello Dear Friends and Family,

The end is coming upon me. I have finished 3 of my 5 final papers and am departing tomorrow for a weekend safari. And then next week is my last week in Mukono with my family. After that we get 4 days of debrief in Entebbe, and then it is Hasta La Vista! I will board a plane for Amsterdam, and then a place for D.C., and then a plane for San Francisco, and then a plane for Seattle. All in all it will take about 2.5 days to reach home again.

I am excited to shower and let a machine wash my clothes for me. I am glad to be seeing my family. I am glad to get to wear pants again. I am glad to be in cold weather and not sweat 24/7. I am glad to eat American food, and drive on the right side of the road (yep, Ugandan’s drive on the left), and listen to music and sing along to it while I drive. I am so glad for soy milk!

But I am sad, so very sad. Sad to leave the routines of life here. Sad to leave my close friends. Sad to not bathe under the stars anymore. Sad to be cold and wet all the time in Seattle. And nervous! Nervous to see my family and try and relate normally to them, to be in that routine again. Nervous that I might forget which side of the road to drive on! And what my life will look like. It’s not like I want to always bath in a bucket or pee in a squatty-potty (though it is way more comfortable)… but what do you do when you have experienced something so unique and different from everyone around you? Inside jokes are bound to come up, but you are the only one inside of them. Or phrases that bring up a story only your friends would understand… who do you tell it to?

I have grown. I feel older, not in a bad way. But like some of my immaturities have been stripped away, leaving more of the woman I am behind. The pot I am being formed into is deeper, more detailed, and able to hold more of what it was intended to hold. The witnesses to this growth are all around my right now, but in just a little while they will be gone. Sadness comes up with that thought. How do you explain to people what has changed over the last semester; what rough edges have been filed, and what new details have been uncovered? Explaining it almost makes it less than it is.

I am not looking forward to answering the bagillion question I will be asked by people who barely know me. I have already started rehearsing the answers… not to say I don’t want people to ask about it, because I do. I just don’t want to give half-ass answers to please the person. If you want to know what happened, I will tell you. But if you just want a 2-minute summary of the experience, then you probably won’t get one. Too much has happened for 2 minutes of words… it might take a lifetime to actually say everything that occurred within and without of me. As of yet I am not even sure what all of it is, words are not yet formed and the stories are not yet complete in my heart.

I am sorry if I am coming across as cynical or depressed, because that isn’t what I am meaning to communicate… except by saying that there probably is a part of me that does feel that way. But mostly I am just processing through my wealth of emotions (God has created me a beautifully emotional woman… sometimes I don’t like that), hoping that in some way it will ease the pressure they are putting on my heart.

Well, I am off to see wild animals. How freakin’ cool is that? Pictures will be posted next week sometime, though I have two more papers to write when I get back.

Love to all,


Friday, November 27, 2009

Kibaale and Thanksgiving Pictures

Here is a feast of pictures for you to enjoy over the weekend, friends!
Love to all!

Joy, Josh, Dean, Holly (left to right of course)
Playing ERS (Egyptian Rat Screw...AKA Rat Killer)

At a primary school in Kigaale

Nuf said.

On top of a big hill!!! I think this might be looking towards Tanzania, but I am not sure.

Girl Hikers! Kristina, Jen, Holly, Joy, Hannah, Julie, Danielle, and Rebecca
(Sorry if I spelled your name wrong!)
Boy Hikers!
I forget the first one's name, Boniface, Phil, Davis, Dean on top of Brian, Josh, and two others!

Yeah, we made a pyramid.
All of IMME!

We played American Football and Brain tackled Danielle (her legs are on the left). It was pretty awesome.
There are papyrus fields everywhere! And they are amazing!

Mk, everyone, guess what movie we watched on Thanksgiving on the side of our directors house???

Kristina and I were COLD! And it was probably in the 60's oustide. I know, pathetic.

FOOD! Well, dessert. I made the apple crisp with Kristina and Deanna.... it's in the silver pan.

*All photos courtesy of Brain "BJ" Longmore

The End!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good Morning Everyone!

It is 7:45ish in the morning as I write this, so many of you are actually heading to bed soon. That still seems weird to me.

This weekend I was in Rakai, a district of towns in south-eastern Uganda. I was in Kibaale, a town very near the Tanzanian border (I saw the border, I think, when we hiked up a big hill). The purpose of this trip was to visit the Kibaale Community Center which is run by 5 Canadian missionaries and a whole bunch of Ugandans. It is a really neat place. They have 2 primary schools (K-7) and a secondary school. They also just recently opened a clinic that treats a wide range of medical needs, and they have a sponsorship program for kids in the community. Overall, a pretty great place with really great people!

While at the community center we did a lot of hanging out and relaxing… because for the first time our program didn’t pack our weekend full of speakers and events. They gave us lots of free time in a beautiful place. So we read, and chatted about lots of things, and climbed a big hill, and played really strange games. I could tell that we had been together a lot at this point, because we talked about such a range of subjects, ranging from casual stories to more intimate questions. It was fun to realize how close we are. And then I got a little scared because it dawns on me again and again that I am leaving in just 3 weeks, and will no longer be surrounded by them everyday. And I don’t know what I will do with that. But one thing I have been learning the past 3 months is that it isn’t my job to guard my heart, that is God’s job and he does it really well. Even though that leaves me feeling open and vulnerable to pain and wounding, I am learning that it is actually better this way then keeping all the pain and hurt far away from me. So I am trying to remain here, in Uganda, with my friends in my heart and mind and not worry about what I will do when they are all gone. However, I still do a little… or a lot. I could use prayer in this area.

Also, I am hitting finals time! And while I don’t have any exams, I have about 8 papers due in the next two-ish weeks. Yikes! So please pray that I will be disciplined and inspired and will get them done! And that I will be able to balance papers with my social life and time alone.

That’s all for now!

Love to all!

Oh, P.S. pictures will come later in the camera broke so I am taking them from other people.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Patience in Kairos

Let you heart rest here for a few minutes

We found a dollar in Uganda
What has the word come to?

Good Morning, Friends!

Over the past month or so I have been reading the book Compassion, written by Henri Nouwen and his friends Douglas Morrison and Donald McNeill. I have read a fair amount of Nouwen and am always astounded and impacted by what he writes. But this book has been ridiculously impactful. I have been reading it with To Be Told by Dan Allander sort of as companion books. And they work together like WD40 on a bike chain.

Along with that, I realize that my blog title might be a tad bit confusing to people. What the heck does In Kairos mean? It’s not an island near Greece, if you were wondering. Compassion has helped me understand Kairos a lot better than I did. So, this blog post is going to be a little different (if you hadn’t already figured that out) because it is going to be more introspective and contemplative, rather than a summary of events (I did go to Kampala again this weekend, and then made chicken soup and mashed potatoes for my family).

Kairos time, as I understand it, is God’s time. I took a class on keeping the Sabbath a year ago and our illustration for the difference between out time (chronos time) and God’s was this: as we live we are rocks in a river, and the river is time rushing past us, but as God lives time is a rock, steady and unmoving, and we are the river rushing past time. I know that probably doesn’t make immediate sense, and honestly I do not know the words to explain the understanding I have of it. My understanding is on a heart level, so I feel the understanding, but I do not have the language in my brain to communicate my heart. But just keep that picture in your heart, or brain, as you continue reading.

One of the last chapters of Compassion is called “Patience.” When I first saw the title I wanted to laugh, and then not read it. I hate being patient, because it makes me feel powerless and trapped. Or when someone tells me to be patient I just want to slap them in the face because it seems like an answer you give someone when you want them to feel better or you have nothing else to say. Also, I really do enjoy instant gratification… even though I know that long-term stuff is usually way better.

So, as I started reading this chapter I was expecting to feel guilty about my lack of patience and challenged to have patience more often. But that has not been the case. The authors, instead, redefine patience. They are defining patience within compassion, and their definition is as follows: “Patience means to enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the suffering within and around us. Patience is the capacity to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell as fully as possible the inner and out events of our lives.” In other words, patience is the opposite of our fight or flee instinct. Patience asks us to stay, to experience whatever is happening within us, or within those around us.

This was surprising for me to read, but also so challenging. I am a flee-er. I usually do not want to stay and fight through something; I want to flee it. And I especially don’t want to sit in something hard without having a way to fix it. I want the bad feelings out and gone, and I want to return to homeostasis. However, redefining patience in this way changes it from a virtue some people have and others don’t into a discipline everyone can work for.

The authors also point out that impatience is always related to time. Always. We are impatient when a speaker goes over time, or when a class is nearly finished. We are impatient when our flight is delayed, or our friend is late for our coffee date. This is because we are constrained by chronos time. In our culture (North American) we are trained to be efficient with our time. We can even take classes and read books on time management.

So where am I going with this, and why am writing about this in a blog? I had hoped my time in Africa would be time away from time, chronos time. I hate being constrained by time, and rushing from place to place because time demands I must. I am tired of being the rock and having time rush past me. So I thought in Uganda this would all be different, and that I would be living in kairos time. I hoped it would be time out of time. Time in God, time with God, time that didn’t insist on going past me, time that stayed still and calm, and gently moved with the inklings of my soul.

But Ugandans have jobs, go to classes, work hard, and are constrained by time. While their time works a little differently, it is still within the confines of 24 hours in a day. And I forgot that I would be in classes, which means every day is scheduled, and due dates creep up on me and attack when I least want to do the assignment.

But what I realized while reading Compassion is that kairos time is not dependant on a location or culture. It’s not even dependant on my schedule. Because I have to still live in chronos time. The world I live in demands it. But that doesn’t mean I have be controlled by it, nor does my life need to be dictated by it. Kairos time is more about my heart-set. And the question I really need to ask myself is am I rushing around, attempting to be efficient, or am I in communion with God and the Beings on this earth? Am I just trying to keep up with the pace of this world, or am I letting myself sit with people, sit with myself, in moments of joy, pain, shame, heartache, abandonment, gladness etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean dropping everything I am doing, though often it does. It is more an openness of my heart to allow these events to remain in their fullness until the event is passed. That is what kairos is, and I hope to always be able to remain in Kairos.

Blessings on your week!

Love to all!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Going Crazy near the Equator

Hello Everyone!

I made it through a week of a million papers, or 5, without too much damage done. I did go a little nuts and got most of my hair cut off! More to follow on that one, along with pictures, of course.

So, since last week was so utterly stressful a few friends and I decided a sleepover/movie night was in order on Friday night. We also decided this would be the night to cut my hair off. So we got Pringles, chocolate, and orange juice at the Supermarket and then headed to Jen and Danielle’s house. Besides us girls, Drew and Josh also came (don’t worry, they didn’t spend the night). Once we arrived at their home we made African tea (basically black chai tea with a lots of sugar in it. We drink this at least twice a day, everyday). Actually, first we talked for about what movie we were going to start with. Our choices were: the Manchurion Candidate, a political thriller/sci fi, or Just Like Heaven, a cute chick flick. We decided it would be best for the girls if we started with the thriller and ended with the chick flick. However, before we even started the movie or the tea Drew and Josh wanted to cut some of my hair off. Why I agreed to this I have no idea, but I did. So they each cut off a pigtail and I was left with a really great reverse mullet for a while.

So the movie. Weird. That was my first impression. But then it was kind of scary, so I had to hold tightly to my Moose. Overall, though, it was a greatly entertaining movie that took a lot of thinking to try and figure out what is going to happen. Brothers of mine, you would probably like it a lot. But for those who don’t like violence and death, probably don’t watch it.

Ok, after the movie Drew and Josh went home. Girl party! Sort of. We ate dinner… well, Jen and Danielle did. My stomach was churning for some reason, and I threw up (again!!), so I chose to not eat that night. Don’t worry, it wasn’t parasites and I was fine the next day. Once they finished eating it was time to finish up my hair! We searched around for the scissors and couldn’t find them. Uh oh! I remembered that Drew had them last so we called him. Josh answered and said, “Well, the good news is that they’re not in Drew’s pocket. The bad news is they’re on our table.” Shoot. Scissors are not a common commodity in a Ugandan household. Your are much more likely to find a machete than a pair of scissors. We discovered that our options were a pair of manicure scissors, or a pair of scissors the size of sheep-shearing scissors, and much much duller. Crap. The manicure scissors won out. 3 hours later Jen had handwashed her laundry, and we had finished Just Like Heaven, and my hair was finally cut off! It was 1 in the morning by now. Straight to bed we went.

The next day we went into Kampala with a few more people. Weird day. Really weird. But awesome. We went to a craft market to get stuff for our families (sorry, I can’t tell you what it is because my family reads this), and then went to watch a movie at Kampala’s only movie theatre (that we know of). We thought we were going to see Surrogate, a movie with Bruce Willis that looked like a cross between iRobot and the Matrix, but it wasn’t playing until later. So we instead went to Blue, a Bollywood movie we knew nothing about. In the opening scene a man wrestles a shark and wins. That was probably the highlight of the movie. After about 20 minutes of it we left. It was just bad. But, we convinced the ticket lady to let us come back at 4:30 to see Surrogate! And man, it was WAY better! I recommend it, in fact. It is set in Boston and I was sitting next to Manny, who lives in Boston! So he knew all the places in the movie. It was great. In fact, the whole day was just random and spontaneous, which made it fun.

So the next day, Sunday, I got to go to a performance of Ugandan cultural dances in Kampala. This was AWESOME! Woman were balancing 8 pots on their heads and still dancing really well. Amazing! And the MC of the event could probably make it as a stand up comedian in the ‘States. He was really funny. Also, this little 2 year old girl kept wandering around the stage during the dances. She was cute and liked to dance, but there were a lot of close calls when she almost got trampled by the dancers. In the beginning I was wondering where her parents were. But then I realized that I was in Africa, and this kind of behavior is pretty much normal. They did eventually come and get their kid.

Overall, a great weekend. And yesterday I cranked out two more papers. Woot!

Onto this week! More papers, a presentation, and probably a lot of socializing.

Love to all!

Drew, butchering my hair.

Josh, doing the same thing... with help from Drew.

Then Drew took the scissors... so these were our options...yeah.

Finished!! Those were the scissors we used. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No News is Good News!

Hello Everyone!

Sorry this is so late this week. It has been insanely busy! Also, I do not have much to report on because not much has happened other than writing papers and reading books. Even though I had all of last week to work on these assignments, I spent a lot more time reading books that fed my soul than reading and writing for school.

But I am so excited to have everyone back! I have also been spending a lot of time just talking with people here and catching up on the last week of their lives. It has been really fantastic to be able to do that. Being without these people for a week made me realize how much I love them all! And I have been appreciating their presence a lot more this week than I have before.

Um… that’s about it. We have reached the more-than-halfway point, and I think in about 6 weeks I will be flying home. I don’t know what to do with that information yet. So I am not going to think about it too much.

Um… yeah. I don’t even have any new pictures, either. But when I do I will put them up!

I guess have a good week, everyone! And feel free to send me notes or funny jokes or anything this week. I am going to go write a paper about polygamy now. Woot!

Love to all!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raging River of Death and other stories.

Hello Everyone!

So in my last blog I told y’all that you wounldn’t hear from me for two weeks because I was going to Kapchorwa for ten days. Well, I went to Kapchorwa, and I met the family that I would be living with for a week, and they were great! So excited to have me in their home and so eager to feed me and love me! They are farmers that grow bananas to make matoke, maize (a kind of corn), coffee, and dairy cows. It was going to be a great week to work with them and really learn about rural lifestyle.

However, as you know I have been waging war against parasitic armies for the past week or so. Well, I thought I was winning… but then I started to feel very sick while I was with my family in Kapchorwa. By the time we got to eating dinner (around 8 that night) all the food they had graciously fed me just came right back out. And I mean all of it. I felt defeated. “The parasites have won,” I was thinking to myself. My family let me go to bed and I spent a restless night crying and praying and hoping my stomach would magically be healed by the morning and I could go on with the week. But that didn’t work. I woke up at dawn, journeyed to the pit-latrine (an unsuccessful venture as my body wasn’t given anything to digest the day before), and then came back to room and threw up again. Not that there was anything left in me to actually throw up.

So throughout the day my program directors came a few times to check on my and try and figure out what to do. But in my heart I knew I needed to leave and go get healthy somewhere! By late afternoon I was packed up and in the van, heading to the hotel where my directors were staying. The next day I journeyed back to Mukono to see a doctor and let my body rest for the week.

The good news of all of this is that the parasites are all dead! Hurray! However, the medication I was taking was so strong that it hurt my digestive system. That combined with not really eating all last week (due to the nausea I experienced from the medication) made me physically and emotionally crapped out. So I have been in Mukono since Sunday night, and am finally able to eat normally again and actually felt energetic this morning! I feel a little bit wimpy for leaving, but then I remind myself that it is important for me to be healthy in body and soul, and I am finally feeling that! Praise be to God!

So that’s the story for all who wanted it! Please keep praying that I will continue to get strong and healthy, and that parasites flee at the sight of me!!

Here are more pictures of what I have done by myself in Mukono, and to reassure you all that I really am alive and well.

This is the juice I found. I thought it might somehow make me more me again :)

It rained really hard yesterday. This is outside of the building (IMME Quarters) where I spend most of my time,

It was scary!!!!!

That's all for now!

Love to y'all!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Catching up on Photos

Here are some pictures! I will write an actual blog tomorrow to let y'all know why I am home and not in Kapchorwa as I told you. But do not fear, I am eating Cashews in safety and peace!

Left to right: Manny, Sam, Jill, Isaiah, and me. At the beginning of our voyage to Ssese. Happy, healthy, excited, and clean.

The men playing with a group of kids. So much fun. Later they jumped rope too!

So we wandered around the island that day and cam upon a school. And then we found this sign. it says "Mestration is a normal body activity." The men supported this notion :)

Lake Victoria and Ssese Island. Beautiful! The picture does not do it justice.

Brian, myself, and Manny, watching the sunset over Lake Victoria. My face is sunburned. Oops!

I forgot to mention Belleville in my blog! Belleville greeted us right off the ferry. It looked like he had been hit by a Boda Boda (Motorcycle) as some point because his head wasn't all there (literally speaking only). He got his name because that night we played a pirated version of monopoly (pictured above). One of the Chance cards said "Go Back Belleville." Yeah, that's all it said. And I don't think there was a Belleville on the board! So the next day when this dog was following us around we just kept saying "Go back, Belleville!" The name stuck, as did the dog. He was great, I think! and sodas and chips (aka french fries) on the shore of Lake Victoria. Very British, eh?

The meeting between my feet and Lake Victoria. Also the last picture taken before I was struck with illness!

On our way to Kapchorwa! Moose was waving at the people and trying to give his mom a heart attack!

This was in Luweero a couple weeks ago at a Compassion International Center. We played in the dirt :)

That's all I got for now. Love y'all! Have a good day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hello Everyone!

This will probably be a long blog because the past several days have been so eventful! So be ready! Also I still haven't gotten pictures to post with this, so you will just have to trust that this is me and not some creeper who stole my identity on blogspot.

Ok, so this past weekend I took a trip that horror movies have been based on. 5 friends and I went to Ssese Island. Ssese is an island in Lake Victoria, kind of close to the Tanzanian border, but still in Uganda. We left Friday morning: Joy, Jill, Isaiah, Sam, Brian, and Manny. We took a taxi (i.e. a Ugandan “bus”) to Kampala where we got some food for the journey before meeting out private hire (i.e. an American taxi). Already we were all enjoying our trip and the moral was high. We passed around chocolate cereal and “fun-sized” bananas; Isaiah awkwardly offered food to the driver and we laughed at him.
When we got to the ferry station it dawned on us that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. We bought our 2nd class tickets and wondered if we would be sitting with the goats on the ferry. But it saved us 10,000 shillings (about $5) so we decided it was worth it. While we waited for the ferry the flat screen TV in the waiting room was showing American music videos. And let me tell you, American culture is sick. I was glad to board the ferry when it finally got there because I was just feeling awkward about Madonna making love on the TV to some young punks. Isn’t she an old woman now?

So the ferry; we didn’t sit with goats, we just sat on unpadded benches. We were all still super excited about our weekend trip and being on the water for 3 hours. The ferry ride passed with lots of reading and talking and laughing. Good times. When the ferry finally landed at Ssese Island our first goal was to find a place to stay. This was actually harder than we thought it would be. But we eventually found a man who said he would show us a place with rooms to stay in. So we followed him. This is when the horror movie would have started playing creepy music. We walked into this campsite with oddly colorful buildings randomly placed throughout, and weird polka music sounding from a randomly placed counter (maybe the bar?) where a white rasta man was rocking out to it. Then a strange looking polish lady who loved monopoly greeted us, along with her huge black Great Dane which looked like it had saddle sore on it’s back. You would think at this point we would have fled the scene, but we didn’t. She showed us a rooming option that we could afford and we were all thinking “Ok.” All except Manny. Manny was already walking away saying, “I am not staying here! The black guy always dies first!” We had agreed already that we wanted to stay together, so we politely told the polish lady that we might come back. The look she gave us was a combination of icicles and arrows on fire, and I’m pretty sure she attempted to curse us as we walked away. Luckily we all have the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, and Angles, and Manny to talk some sense into us.

So we wandered across the street to another resort-type place that looked way more normal. We even managed to convince them to give us a family sized room (enough beds for four people, and we would just squeeze in the other two) for $7.50 a night each. This also included breakfast! And Manny agreed that this place was ok. We were still convinced, however, that we were in a horror movie.

We fell asleep that night to Isaiah reading us some scripture, and then some of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. I fell asleep during that part, but I hear they then played the word association game until everyone fell asleep.

The next day we explored the island. We just walked around most of the day. In the late morning we ran into some kids playing football (i.e. soccer) and the four boys joined in the game while Jill and I chatted awkwardly with some of the girls. The football game evolved into a jump roping game, which was hilarious. And then we said goodbye to go hunt down some grub! On our way to find food we found a sign that said, “Menstruation is a normal body activity” and couldn’t help but get pictures with it.

We eventually found food, and then we wandered back to our room. Jill and I napped, bathed, and read for a while. Who knows what the boys were doing during this time. But we did meet up later and had chips (i.e. French fries), coffee and sodas while we watched the sun set over the island.

It was about an hour later, when it was dark, that we realized we needed dinner and our hotel place wasn’t going to be serving any dinner that night. “Well, I guess we have to go off-campus” someone said. So we did. Slowly and cautiously we wandered across a field to the nearby “town.” We walked into the first dinner place we could find, sat down and ordered up. Matoke and Gnut sauce (a staple food item anywhere in Uganda). We were all kinda freaked out, however, because it was dark and creepy. So we ate and then hurried back to our room. Or we would have it it wasn’t for the fireflies! I have never seen fireflied before, so we stopped in the field to look at them. And then Jill taught us a really fun game called “star-tripping” or star tipping, or star-spinning (whatever). What you do is you star at a star above you and spin for about 30 seconds, then someone shines a flashlight in your face and you fall over. Literally, you cannot stand up because you feel like the ground is going to hit you, or that you are going to be run over by a truck. It was funny. Siblings of mine, you should try this. So we were enjoying this and having fun when Brian stops us and says, “There’s a hippo over there.” We had been talking all weekend about how dangerous hippos are. So we took off running across the field towards the resort place. When we got there we all laughed and mentioned horror movies again.

Then some of us were tired (mainly Brian and I... we must be getting old). So we headed up to go to bed. I got ready for bed for a little bit when suddenly I needed to puke. It was sudden, and it was terrible. I made it to the toilet and up came all my dinner. When my stomach was empty and lay in my bed and started shivering with a fever. It was literally one moment I was fine and the next I wasn’t. All night I shivered with fever, sometimes sleeping, but most of the time awake. In the morning we had to catch the ferry at 8am. When I woke up Jill asked me how I felt. I answered, “Like I have to puke.” Then I got up and puked. Jill said she almost started laughing because it was so matter-of-fact when I said it.

Walking to the ferry was a challenge. I walked slowly and the others carried my stuff. We got to the ferry and claimed a table in first class (this means the seats were padded and there was a T.V. to watch). I was wearing 3 coats (everyone else was in t-shirts) and still shivering a shaking. I probably looked rather pathetic. An hour into the boat ride I was in the same state, so I asked Brian to call one of our program directors because I knew something was wrong. It was arranged that I would meet someone at The Surgery (not to have surgery, it’s just the name of the doctors office we go to in Kampala). The boat ride passed with me shivering, and everyone else watching Shema (look it up, one of the most amusingly bad movies ever made).

So by the time I got to the doctor’s office my fever had broken and I was doing a little better. I even drank a juice box! At the doctor they felt my tummy and asked awkward doctor questions, then they wanted some of my poop. The doctor handed me the smallest plastic tube with a little ice-cream spoon attached to the lid. I thought, “How am supposed to aim for that?” Also hoping I would have some poop in me. I went to the bathroom and managed to squeeze some out, and then I carefully used the ice-cream spoon to scoop it into the little container. I felt victorious to say the least! After about 20 minutes the doctor called me in again and announced, “You have parasites.” What? “Two of them. Giardia and Amoebas.” What? I know about Giardia, it is bad. You don’t want it. But I didn’t have any of the symptoms for it yet. But amoebas are also bad. Basically, don’t get parasites. Stay away from them.

I got the medication to kill the little buggers and then went home. I slept for a while, talked to my mom (Hi Mom!) and tried to eat a little dinner. But I still felt like shit (oops, sorry). Threw up some more before bed and my poor roommate Holly was kind enough to clean it up for me. It was bad. The next day I felt a little better and didn’t throw up my medication, so called for a ride to school. Probably a bad idea, but who can ever tell if an idea is a good one? Plus there was no one at home to talk me out of it and I was lonely. So I went, and basically lay on the couch all day and slept here and there. I waited around until evening time when I could get a ride home. But I started to deteriorate and ended up throwing up the 7 crackers I had kept down that day. I just told people to get me home. When I got home I went straight to bed and took some Dramamine to help me sleep. It doubled in the program because it also settled my stomach! I didn’t really get up until 1 the next afternoon. About 15 hours of sleep did wonders! I ate some rice and bananas and tea, and then I bathed. And then I was tired so I read for a while. But since then I have been doing pretty good! I think I am in the clear, finally, and hopefully most of the parasites are dead now.

K, that was a really long story. I totally understand if you didn’t want to read it all. But if you did congrats!

In other news, I am leaving this Friday to stay with a family in rural Uganda –Capachurwa (I don’t know how to spell it). So you won’t be hearing from me for another two weeks, probably. But I am sure I will have lots to tell y’all. Until then, have a great rest of October!

Love to all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kids and Catholics and God is Good!

Hello Everyone!

Sorry this is a day later than usual. Sometimes life just happens.

This weekend I was in Luweero, a town in Uganda. On Saturday we got to go to a Compassion International center and play with 280 kids! At one point I was in a small room absolutely packed with little kids signing and dancing and basically making a mosh pit. Insane! But so fun!! We were in the room because it was raining hippos and elephants outside. I think we could have taken a shower in the downpour and been thoroughly cleaned be end, minus the red mud that would have been all over our feet.

The next day we went to a Catholic Mass. I have never been to a catholic church before, so I was really excited to get to go to one. I have been attending an Anglican church here in Mukono, which has been a very different experience. So I was expecting the Catholic church to feel a little similar (liturgical and formal etc.) but it was way different! First of all, the whole service was in Luganda, so I didn’t understand any of it. But the music was joyful and enthusiastic, and the bible readings were done by lots of different congregational members, from the old to the young. And the Priest who leads the church gave a sermon that was moving and engaging, though I didn’t understand the words. Overall, I loved this church experience. The people were also very welcoming and excited to have us there with them.

This week is going to be full of reading and writing papers (it already has been, in fact) so I need to keep this one short so I can get going on more of that stuff.

Keep up the prayers! And I love getting facebook comments or e-mails or whatever. Snail mail is really really slow, so I don’t recommend it.

Love to all!

Oh, and I will post pictures later. They are on my friends computer and the internet is kinda slow right now.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend at the Nile

Greetings to All!

Well, it is another Monday in Africa and I am at school researching the reasons why Catholics and Protestants have bad relations. I am also sitting the open-air dinning hall drinking Milk-Tea and listening to Misty Edwards “Relentless” album.

Last week was a much better week than the two weeks before it. I think this was for a couple of reasons. The first being that I realized I was really tired of learning about Africa all the time, and I was really wanting to escape it somehow. I love Africa and love learning about it, but enough is enough and I needed a break. So I looked under my bed and lo and behold a copy of The Return of the King (3rd book of the Lord of the Rings series) was sitting there, asking to be read. So I have spent the last week in Middle Earth fighting against Sauron and his orcs. I also made the decision to not be stressed out about school any more. I was spending so much of my time figuring out what I was supposed to be learning and reading, and then trying to read it all, that I was always stressed and overwhelmed with it all. So I also stopped doing a lot of the readings for classes and instead have been reading for pleasure, and being available to be with people at school. And this has been fantastic! Because I feel more relaxed, less worried, and like I am really getting to know people. Hopefully at the end of this semester when I get my transcript I will still think this was a good idea.
(Brian and Manny)

Last Friday afternoon I traveled into Kampala with my friends Brian and Manny (pictured above) to go to a local artists studio and look at African paintings. I was a little nervous about this adventure, as I really don’t like big cities and often get left behind or lost, but Brain and Manny are probably some of the best people to be in a big city with. And I never felt left behind or lost or even like a burden. I just enjoyed the afternoon. I think, though, that by the end of the day I was pretty dehydrated because I was feeling bad. My body felt tired and just like it wasn’t working very well. I also hadn’t been eating well that day, or enough, so that could also have had to do with whatever was going on. When I got home I ate dinner and then went to bed, after downing a bottle of water, hoping sleep would cure whatever was ailing me. The next day we were leaving early to go white-water rafting on the Nile.

(A local artist painting a really cool elephant)

When I woke up in the morning I knew something was wrong because I sat up and immediately needed to puke. “Oh shoot, this will be a long day,” I thought to myself. I somehow made it to the bus that was taking us to Jinja, and then tried to sleep the rest of the ride there, hoping the sickness would pass and I could still go rafting. But it didn’t. And while everyone was getting ready to go out, I decided to not go and instead rest and sleep the day away at the resort where we were staying. This turned out to be the best decision I could have made, as after I heard about the rafting adventure I knew I would have hated it. The trip took people over class 4 and 5 rapids (the highest level is 6, I believe) and rafts often flipped and people would get sucked under the water for a while. No one got badly hurt, and it was actually pretty safe, but I would have hated it. Instead I spent the day reading and chatting with Kristin, a friend who also didn’t want to go rafting. So I had a really great weekend and just enjoyed the people I was with and the stories I got to hear about other people rafting.

(This is a grade 1 rapid, and it was a little scary looking to me)

(People also went bungee jumping... but I didn't)

We got home Sunday evening and now I am at school, working hard when I have to, and otherwise taking time to really invest in the people I am with. The Lord continues to reveal more of the reasons I am here, and continues to bless me and care for me when I am sick or tired. So thanks be to God!

(Look everyone, I am still alive!!!)

Prayer requests this week: that I will be attentive to what God has for me and enjoy it to it’s fullest, that I will continue to be open to friendships here, and that my body will continue to be healthy and in working order.

Love to all!