Sunday, September 27, 2009

Matoke!!! Left to Right: Joy, Holly, and Maureen
Maureen's daughter Maureen (yes, they have the same name) and I after making cookies.
The cookies Holly and I made!
Ivan, Maureen's son, making gipatie's.
Laundry in the rain!

Hello Everyone!!!

This weekend I got to spend at home with my African family! It is only the second time I have gotten to do that. And did we have adventures or what! Adventures in cooking, that is. Holly and I first learning how to make Matoke. A few words about matoke: you have not actually eaten a meal unless you had matoke, and you should probably eat a lot because it is the staple food in every meal! Matoke is made from bananas, but not the bananas you get a Safeway or Red Apple. These bananas you have to peel with a knife, and they should be green when you peel them. And you shouldn’t eat them raw, it is gross. So you first peel them with a knife, cut them in half longwise, and stick them in a pot to be washed. Then you gather banana leaves and spread them over a basket/bowl thing. You wash the matoke bananas and them put them on top of the banana leaves. You put more leaves on top of the matoke, and then tie the bundle together with banana fibers. Then you steam the bundle for a few hours and when you open it you have a large mass of yellow stuff without flavor! But I think it is good for me in some way.

After the matoke, Holly and I made chocolate chip cookies! This was a challenge as we don’t have an oven. But we made it work somehow. After making the dough we heated a pot over a charcoal stove, and then we kinda fried the cookies until they looked cooked. Some of them were a little burned. But they tasted great! And then we made gipatie (AKA chipatie). But by that time I was so tired that I watched more than I helped.

We then finished off the adventures with laundry. But partway through doing laundry it started pouring rain! So we moved to the porch and finished washing our clothes. By the time we finished washing them the raid had stopped. But shortly after we hung them on the line it started pouring again! Maureen, our stand-in mom, told us to leave them. So the short is that it took until Sunday afternoon for our clothes to dry! And then last week we found out that if you don’t iron your clothes little bugs will burrow into your skin… so we have started ironing our clothes.

After all of those adventures I was really tired, so I took a nap. And then later in the day I started feeling really homesick, and really sick of Africa. All we ever talk about here is Africa, and we only learn about Africa, and read about Africa. So I was just feeling a need to escape from Africa for a while. And lo and behold I had brought the Return of the King book with me! So Saturday night and Sunday I lived in Middle Earth and have been fighting alongside Aragorn and Gandalf to safe Gondor.

On Sunday, after church, I decided I needed to go out and do something. So I went and visited my friend Deanna. Deanna lives across the field at a farm-like house. Her family has chickens, and ducks, and pigs (including baby piglets), goats, AND PUPPIES! So I got to hold a little puppy for a while. That did something really good for my heart. I miss my dog, and I love puppies in general. So snuggling with a warm tiny furry body just lifted my spirits.

Overall I am ok. I get homesick a lot, and I get tired of Africa a lot, and especially I am tired of being uncomfortable all the time. But I continue to learn how to live with it all and I try not to think of how much longer I am here. Instead I find little things to look forward to. Like this coming weekend I am going to raft the Nile with the other American and Canadian students. And I think if I just do that then I will be able to make it through.

I also wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone for the notes of love left on my Facebook and blog page. They truly did lift my spirits, though often they made me cry as well. Please continue to leave notes if you think of it! And continue to pray that I will rest in God, and that He will gather my as a mother hen gathers her chicks. I read that in Matthew last night, though it was Jesus speaking of Jerusalem.

Love to all!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flesh Pop's, Talapia, and The Nile

A Talapia, the Boat Driver, and Brian.
The Source of the Nile
The biggest snail I have ever seen!
Mmmm...Meat on a Stick! AKA Flesh Pop

Sorry, everyone, that this blog is a day late. Yesterday I was not in a state to write a blog.

This past weekend I was in Jinja, a town in western Uganda near the Source of the Nile. So I got to see the Nile! And I got to take a boat ride up the Nile a little ways. I feel like being on the Nile is something I have dreamed of doing since my homeschooling days of studying Ancient Egypt. And though I was in Uganda at the beginning of the Nile, I still felt connected to Egypt and the end of Nile. It was really cool knowing I was floating on the same water Moses floated it, and that God turned to blood. And probably Jesus swam in the Nile during his time in Egypt.

Jinja is a much quieter town than Mukono. It feels smaller, but it is more developed with sidewalks and paved roads. It had the same feel as downtown Ellensburg with lots of little shops and cafĂ©’s. We also got to stay at a really neat Safari resort place. It had “real” showers (meaning cold water coming out of a shower head above my head, rather than a bucket of water to splash on myself), a pool to swim in, and lots of interesting creatures to look at. It was nice to have a weekend away and a place to relax and enjoy the company of my fellow students.

Funny moments: in Uganda they still sometimes use Bride Price, so on our boat ride on the Nile one of the guys, Manny, tried to sell one of the girls, Julie, to the boat driver. The agreed upon price was 8 cows, an Island at the source of the Nile, a stork (they have huge ones here), the fish the boat driver caught, and the entire Nile. It was probably way more funny in the moment than to y’all reading it now. Another funny moment was when Manny decided to be the first one to drink the Nile! About 30 second after he drank some of it, he realized what he had done and said “My doctor specifically told me not to drink this water. How hard is it to avoid drinking the Nile? Not that hard!” Again, probably funnier at the time than reading it.

But I am feeling lots more bonded to the other students around me, and I really enjoy being with them most of the time.

Unfortunately, as soon as I got back from Jinja I hit an emotional wall and the last two days have just been shitty (sorry, those of you who don’t like cussing… sometimes I don’t know how else to describe something). I just feel ridiculously emotional and rather alone in that. Even though most of us are feeling this way… I just miss my community in Yakima and Seattle a lot. And I know what I need to do to feel better, I think, but it is scary for me to do it so I am still stuck. I could use a lot of prayer this week, and any messages of love in any form. I think the novelty of being in Africa is wearing off (I have been here a month), and I am homesick, and I miss having space to be emotional and get it out. I am feeling a little constrained in that area. And I am feeling so overloaded with schoolwork! So please pray for me.

Love to all!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Food!!! Beans, Matoke, chipati, and some other stuff.
In the boat on Lake Bunyoni (Photo courtesy of Brian Longmore)
A bunch of us in front of Hotel Rwanda in Kigali (the real one, but they also filmed it here I think). The people are (left to right) Deanna, Brian, Phil, Joy, Jennifer, and Eddie. Photo courtesy of Brian Longmore.

Hello everyone!

Last week was my first week of official classes at Uganda Christian University. By Friday I was having a hard time remembering that I like to learn things. Most of us North American students were feeling overwhelmed with the amount of reading we are supposed to accomplish in very little time. I coped with that by not reading!! Just kidding. I read a little.

Many of you heard about the riots that happened in Kampala the end of last week. By Saturday night the city was getting back to normal. For those of you that didn’t hear about them, you can read about them here:

I was impressed with how the directors of my study abroad program handled the riots and keeping us safe. They were able to convey a need for caution without freaking us out! And, as I live with an Anglican Reverend, my house was very safe. So rest assured, everyone, that I am in good hands and am being well looked after!

Besides all that, I feel like I don’t have much to report. Last week was challenging, but mostly because I was adjusting to living with a new family, in a new culture, and trying to figure out how classes work at this school! So I was pretty emotional all week. But I got through it and am feeling a lot more settled and at home now. I have gotten very comfortable with bathing from a bucket! Later on I will write more about that experience, along with other daily things I experience.

That is all for now! I am going to make Monday’s my regular blogging days, and then if something exciting happens in the week I might post again.

Oh, I wanted to say Thank You! To everyone that has written me on Facebook or commented on my blog page! I really appreciate the encouragement, commiseration, and love! I am sorry that I cannot reply to everyone. But know that I am always glad to read a comment or wall-post!

Love to all!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Travels in Rwanda

Rwanda is a beautiful country! It is full of hills that are usually very green. Most of Rwanda is farmland, so many of the hills are terraced and covered with crops of various kinds. Banana orchards are everywhere! Makes me feel like I am home in Selah, driving past orchard after orchard. Except banana trees look nothing like northwest fruit trees. Whenever we drove past a village all the kids would wave and yell “Muzungu!!” Muzungu is the word used for anyone who is not Africa. If you are Asian, they will yell “Muzungu Asia!” Makes me feel a little weird. But I also felt welcomed everywhere we went. I wonder if this is just because of the color of my skin, however. White skin is associated with wealth and power. And while I have very little of either, I can’t help but enjoy the shouting and waving.

Our first stop was Gahini, a town in Rwanda where, in the 1930’s, the East African Revival started. This is also the place where the king of Rwanda lived. It is beautiful! We heard several people speak about the revival, the church now, and life in Rwanda before and after the genocide.

After two days in Gahini we traveled to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Kigali is a fantastically designed city. Almost all the roads are paved, there are sidewalks, and a genius drainage system that is much needed as Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills. There is a distinct downtown with tall buildings and shopping malls and restaurants and hotels, but also local vendors selling crafts, books, and food. However, Kigali is also a hard place to be as it was where the genocide began.

Our first stop in Kigali was Nyamata, a church where several thousand people were killed over the course of three days during the genocide. Nyamata is no longer a church where people for worship, but a memorial site where people come to grieve and remember the past. When we walked into the church I think all the color must have drained from my face as I saw piles of rotting clothing covering the pews and the floor. There were holes in the roof from shrapnel from grenades, and bullet holes all over the walls. My first thoughts were to run as fast and as far away as I could. But I stayed and listened as our tour guide walked us through exactly what had happened during the three days people were trapped inside the church. I will not repeat them here as I still have a hard time thinking about it. When it really became to much for me is when the group was taken below the church where the remains of people were. Stacks of bones and skulls lined the walls. I could not bring myself to go below and see it all. So I peeked through the windows a little. But that was enough to make me want to get on the next plane home. I do not handle death very well.

The next day we went to the Kigali genocide memorial. This memorial was set up to walk you through genocides all over the world, and then the Rwandan genocide. It carefully explained what lead up to the genocide, what the genocide was, and what has happened afterwards. This was not as hard for me as Nyamata, but it was followed by a documentary of the genocide. In the documentary is actual footage of people being slaughtered, and later of decomposing bodies covering the city. I think after Nyamata and the documentary I was probably in a literal state of shock. And still there was more to hear as we listened to many different speakers throughout the rest of the week talk about the genocide and their experiences with it, either during or after it. I found that the only way I could get through it all was to not think about it. I kept it as contained deep down in me as possible because I was afraid of how much emotion there was in me about it all. I am a visual person, however, so everywhere we drove in Kigali I kept picturing dead bodies.

When I finally faced a little of what I was feeling I found a lot of anger at God, and a lot of sadness. I had heard stories if babies being smashed against walls and then ground up into meatballs; women who were raped over and over again for months; children who were hacked apart by machetes. Where was God in all of this? How could He stand by and let this happen?

Yet I know that God is good, loving, caring, and powerful. My head knows all of this, and my heart has believed this in the past. But it takes me time to work through my emotions and come to terms with the bad stuff of this world. So please pray for me as I slowly open the hatch that lets out the emotions surrounding my week in Rwanda.

On a lighter note, I have experienced so many different toilets this week! Whenever we get to a new place and I open the door to the toilet room my heart beats a little fast in anticipation of what I will find. Sometimes it is a hole in the concrete floor, other times it is a porcelain bowl in the ground that flushes with great force. Occasionally it is an actual toilet, but even then there is no guarantee it will flush. Also, toilet paper is not seen as a requirement to provide. So it is a good idea to always have toilet paper and instant hand sanitizer close at hand.

I also found the place I would like to honeymoon too. Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda has an island camp called Bushara. You camp in a safari tent (large and green canvas) in the most comfortable beds, wake up to birds singing, shower by moonlight, swim in the lake, or just read on the shore. It is BEAUTIFUL! That’s were we ended our Rwanda trip and debriefed our experiences. And that’s where I am ending this exhaustive blog!

Prayer requests: school starts today! I am not really ready for classes and homework to begin. Also pray for my emotional and spiritual processes and that I will be able to find people to help me process through it all. And pray that the desire to run away to America will not be too strong as I adjust to life in Africa.

Love to all!