I have been back in the United States a week, but I feel like everything that happens is still so strange. My life in Africa feels like a lifetime ago some moments and like I should still be there others.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I have been back in the United States a week, but I feel like everything that happens is still so strange. My life in Africa feels like a lifetime ago some moments and like I should still be there others.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Flying into Amsterdam was crazy. The first thing that hit me is how much everyone looks alike. When we were in Uganda we could all tell each other apart cause we were the Mzungu's in the midst of tons of Africans. Now everyone was white, none of us stood out except in maybe what we were wearing.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
For those of you that know me well, you know how much I hate change, how much I hate goodbyes, and how after many a year of having to do them how much I still simply suck at them.
So the end of Uganda was alot of fun, sad but fun.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
(Mmmmm fried grasshoppers....)
As time is wrapping up so are the things going on. This past week has been the ending of classes and finals. I thankfully have no finals which is really nice.
Friday, December 3, 2010
I had to write a final essay for my Faith and Action class basically talking about my overall experience in Uganda and what I am taking away from my four months here. It was for a class so there may be some things that are referenced that do not make sense, but I thought a few people might be interested. It is long, but if you are interested here it is!
The last four months have been a life changing experience for me. I am so incredibly glad I came to Uganda. I was unsure of many things, and although I still have a great deal in my life to figure out, coming to Uganda is one of the best choices I made in my life.
When I came to Uganda I came with few expectations or goals. I was tired of being in the United States, and with a great deal of other things in my life. I needed change of scenery and my love of Africa drew me to this program. I never expected to have some of my views so confirmed and/or changed in the four months I have been here. I did not expect to see much of a difference here than in the life I had lived in other countries before, and I was surprised at both how much I knew and did not know.
Since I have come to Uganda my relationship with God has grown significantly. After high school, because of some different circumstances I slowly drifted away from Him and focused too much on me and what I wanted and what I was looking for in this life. I still wanted to know what He wanted for me, but I kept pulling away, and demanding my rights. I really struggled with trusting God, and truly believing that He actually had my best interest in mind.
When I came to Uganda I was a broken person who had only recently begun to be repaired. I had only recently opened up my heart to letting God back in. Upon coming to Uganda I realized that I could not do this on my own. Every other time I had moved I was in the care of my parents with no worries whatsoever. I came here alone. I knew no one and did not really have a clue what I was getting into. In the time I have been here I have really learned how to lean on God. I have spent a good deal of time trying to grow closer to Him. I have spent more time seeking out what He wants and just trying to be more aware of His voice and be guided by God and God only. Faith and Action has been a good class for that. Although I do not agree with things that are said, or always love the class it has caused me to think about my relationship with God and this world. When I go home I want to continue trying to work on my relationship with God, and growing in Him.
I love the USP and Ugandan community. I have to admit making friendships with Ugandans has not been the easiest even for me. A great deal of this is because of the way men act here. Many times I just get hit on not talked to and that frustrates me. On the other hand, I absolutely love Honors College, especially the girls. They have truly just welcomed us in and I feel so comfortable with them.
I do love the way that people use ‘presence’. It is difficult for me to just sit sometimes and literally do nothing at all for long periods of time, but I think it is great the way they all care for each other and show their love through their presence. As Taylor speaks about how you have to interact with another culture on their level, I think that it has been a great growing and learning experience to be on the same page as people. I hope to learn how to be more ‘present’ even in the hustle and bustle of the United States and take what I have learned here about people and apply it to those back in the United States.
At the same time I love the USP students. The community that has developed between the thirty-two of us in these past four months astounds me. In many ways I have no desire to go ‘home’ where relationships are so much more confusing and not near as just simply good solid friendships. Although being with the same people all the time can be infuriating at moments, I love the people that are here with me. I love the way that we take care of each other and truly just look out for each other. I feel as though I have grown so close to the people here, and I wish that I did not have to leave them. I really want to work on my friendships when I get home and take a real look at them. After being here, I do not want to settle for friendships that are not as solid, or even just as true caring as the way we are together here are.
There are six of us girls that have grown even closer than most. Although I have a good relationship with everyone here the six of us are like a family. We all have our ‘place’ and we have grown together in such a way it is truly as though we are sisters. We are the family that we do not have here for each other. One of the most difficult things about leaving is going to be saying goodbye to the family I have developed in them.
As for the staff I do not have an overall strong opinion. I feel as though they are all given a great many roles to play and that it is hard to balance all that. It makes me truly appreciate the resources that people have in the United States, to be able to hire a great number of staff to fulfill so many different positions. However, one of the most frustrating experiences I have had here in reference to staff is just the way classes and grades are so different. I am someone who cares a great deal about my grades and that is what my focus is on. To not be given any and on top of that to be put under a different grading system was not easy for me at all. I feel as though giving grades can be better for some people, and also a better explanation of how we will get our grades for all our classes at the end of the semester would have been extremely useful and helpful for my time here.
Faith, hope, and love are spoken about in the bible as some of the most important aspects of our relationships with both people and God. How we handle and have these three things affects how we live our life.
When we discussed ‘faithfulness versus effectiveness’ from Mere Discipleship it really showed me how much our faithfulness had an effect on everything else. Although I cannot say that I agree with everything Lee Camp states in his book, I do appreciate how he believes we need a stronger faith in God and when that happens we will become more effective. I struggle with this because I want to be effective; that is one of my greatest goals. I am in social work because I want to make a change in at least one person’s life. I do not believe that the “end justifies the means” that Camp talks about and explains how that is destructive. I do think that the means is extremely important and perhaps something that many people forget. My goal is to be effective through being faithful and by doing things the right way, even if both of those are difficult at times.
Hope is something that I feel like many people give up. Personally I know I have lost hope at times in my life when I got hurt or confused. Since I have been here it is has been so incredible to see the hope many people have despite their circumstances. Compared to the majority of the world I have an easy life. I have food, a house, a family, and I do not fear that I will wake up and have nothing. I know that I am taken care of, and that when I graduate I will capable of carrying on my life and will be able to take care of myself. I have the ability to have health insurance, a car, a place to stay, and money to pay off my bills as well as invest for my future. Yet those who have the most seem to have the least hope, whereas it seems as though people who have so little are filled with such hope. They long for a better life and they do not lose hope. I respect that so much about the people here who have been living the same way for so long, yet have such hope about life and everything. They do not give up, and they do their best no matter what their circumstances are.
Love is not always easy to demonstrate. It is something that can be both hard to receive and give out. The community that I have seen develop simply among the USP students has truly demonstrated what real love should look like. The 32 of us were tossed together in a new country, culture, with people we had never seen before. All of us were force to interact with each other and become friends even if in ‘real life’ we would never have interacted with each other. As a result of this we have all come to love each other in such an unconditional manner.
When only 32 people are together all the time at moments it is difficult. To always be around the same people, they are bound to drive you crazy once in awhile. However, I feel as though I have made true friends. Friends who love me dearly, who care about me, for no reason other than the fact that they love me. The way we have all grown together and the way we all interact with each other truly shows me what love should look like in this world. It is not distorted; it is not for someone’s own benefit, or just cause we feel we have to be around each other. It is a result of truly caring about each other. We have a community similar to how Compassion suggests a group has one. “Compassion is not an individual character trait, a personal attitude, or a special talent, but a way of living together”.
When I came here I thought I had a lot of my vocational decisions figured out. Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life it was an easy answer, I was going to work in international adoption. I have a passion for Africa and international orphan children especially. When I began my practicum here my whole plan got thrown for a roller coaster ride. After working in some parts of international social work I was all of a sudden very unsure if that is what I really wanted to do.
In the beginning of the semester Gwen had us read Human Rights and Social Justice in a Global Perspective. In it there were a couple chapters that hit me, mostly ones that contained human rights. There is a quote on page 20 that says “social workers may find themselves in a bind trying to recognize the right to one’s culture as well as one’s human right’s”. I think that it made me realize that international social work is more than just put this child with this family. It is a blending of cultures and a great deal of work. Although I still love this area I am just not sure if it is really what is for me.
After rural home stays when our whole group was at Sipi Falls, some of us began talking about social work and specifically adoption and foster kids. During this conversation it hit me. I had forgotten why I went into social work. I had forgotten the passion I had for life, justice, and children being properly taken care of. At the end of that conversation I realized how much I want to work in social work in the U.S. for a while. Although I am still in-between some different ideas and still not sure, I feel like I do have a better grasp of what I want to do and what God wants me to do, especially with the gifts and passions he gave to me.I cannot say that I am sure of what my purpose in life is. I am not sure if anyone ever really knows that, but I want to do my best to figure it out. Right now my purpose is to be in Uganda and do the best that I can in my life here and in what I am doing here. Right now my purpose is to be the best I can be. However, our purpose changes I believe throughout our lives and I will simply always try to be the best I can be with whatever it is. I know I mess up a lot and that I still have a great deal to learn, but I want to live my life for God no matter what I do. I know that that phrase sounds cliché but I truly do. God has done so much for me in my life, and I want to live my life for him, no matter where that takes me.
Identity is a difficult thing for me. I feel as though I have several and that leads me to be confused about who I really am. Sometimes it seems as though I have a few lives that I lead because of the different friends I have and the different places I have lived. It is difficult sometimes, as I do not know where my heart lies. I love the life I led growing up, but I feel as though I have changed so much since I began college.
I have lived in four countries, four states and at least 15 houses throughout my life. I have always struggled with who I am. I have always defined myself as the oldest of three sisters, someone who loves sports and the ocean. I was the girl who was from Africa who did not want to come back to the US. I am the girl still learning to adjust to life and find myself.
Coming here has taught me a lot. I chose to come here because I knew I needed to do something other than what I had been doing for the past two years. I had hoped to maybe understand myself better, and find myself. Although that is not what happened I think I have come to better terms with my identity.
My identity in Christ is the most important to me. As I said before I desire to please Him and to be sure that He is the center of my life and all my relationships at all times. My identity in Him does not involve anyone else; it keeps the world out and only him in my viewpoint. My identity in people has always meant too much too me. I value what people think in me and my goal when I leave is to stop worrying about what people think of me and only care what God thinks of me. I want to make decisions for myself and no one else.
My identity in my family is to be the best daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, and niece that I can be. I know that I do not always succeed in this, but I want my family to be proud of me. My family has stood by me all 20 years of my life. When there was no one else in this world there they were, always next to me encouraging me. Coming here only made me realize how important they really are to me. Although I would not see them during this time anyways the convenience of being able to call them or know that if I really needed to I could see them was wonderful. I realized how much I truly miss them and how much I love them.
Being here in Uganda was and is such an amazing experience for me. In so many ways I am not ready to go home. I am not sure how to take everything that I learned and apply it. I have some ideas obviously, but life is different in both countries and it is hard to reconcile where I stand on some issues. I tend to think about everything that I do here in a different way than I do in America. I am thankful for the month that I will get before school begins to adjust. At the same time I am not sure if once you have lived overseas you can really ever completely adjust because you see life so differently. Once you have been exposed to the rest of the world you can never go back. For that I am eternally grateful.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Today is December 1st. How crazy is that? I honestly feel like it was last week that I flew into this new country on an airplane not 100 days ago. And I am honestly far from ready to leave.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Goodbyes are never easy and something I probably struggle with more than most people. I absolutely HATE leaving people and saying goodbye to pretty much anyone.
This past Tuesday was my last day at CHAIN. My practicum. Although parts of this, like the school, were easy to leave, leaving my kids was awful. I have come to love them so much, and walking away from those kids I have spent the last three months getting to know, and knowing that I will more than likely never see again was awful.
While were there Tuesday we mostly just played with the kids. We did have a time where we went over our assessments with Dorthy and talked to her about what we knew about CHAIN and what not. Oh in case anyone wanted to know CHAIN stands for Children Health Advocacy Initiative Network.
We went to devotions to tell the kids goodbyes, but our van pulls up before we even get to say goodbye. Since there was not time for everyone to talk Alayna said a few things about how we loved them and would miss them and how much we enjoyed our time with them this semester. Then we give a lot of them hugs and are on the verge of tears, when Becky shows up bleeding everywhere. The dog from an organization across the street is our dog’s ‘husband’ and attacked her when she was petting the CHAIN dog. She is having to get rabies shots and got stiches in her hand and knee. So if you could keep her in your prayers that would be great!So even though becky stole the show… haha… we had a pretty good goodbye with our kids. I miss them so much and I hate that we had to leave them, and I do hope that the all do great things. They are such great kids. Please keep them in your prayers as well. They are so amazing.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Last Thursday a group of six of us headed off to a Safari. We took a taxi to Kampala and went to the Red Chili Hideaway where we stayed the night. We had dinner and some people played scrabble and then we went to bed. We stayed in a dormitory where the six of us stayed in bunk beds with other people in the opposite room and we all shared a bathroom. We got up at 7 the next day to eat our bread and peanut butter that we brought with us and went outside to be prepped. We got in our safari van and began the drive to Murchison Falls. About 2 hours into it we picked up two other people to add to our van. We ate lunch in Masindi and then headed out again. We got to our campsite – the Red Chili Rest Camp – in Murchison Falls National Park and got to spend the rest of the day hanging out.
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing cards and eating a ton of beef jerky and amazing trail mix. We had a great dinner and went to bed super early. That night though we did get to see a hippo in our camp!
The next morning we got up at 5:45 am ate our bread and peanut butter, watched the sunrise, and got in our safari van. They had put the roof up and we drove down to the Nile .We crossed over on the ferry and then began our Safari!!
I expected to only get to see patches of animals here and there. We literally almost always had some sort of animal in sight. There were giraffes everywhere it was amazing.
On the land safari we saw pumbas, giraffes, aldabeasts, elephants, other deer gazelle looking things, buffalo, hippo, some birds, and a couple jackals.
At one point they let everyone get out of the van in case they need to pee, and so that we could get up closer to the hippos. While we were looking at them some fisher boys were paddling their boat towards them and they all started moving! Hippos are seriously HUGE. Then we got to see a momma hippo and her baby walking around. It was so cute!
At another point Alayna and I jumped off of the van (we were sitting in the front/back outside of the actual back) with the permission of our guide of course and tried to get closer to the giraffes. Obviously they were scared of us although I am not really sure why they are obviously way bigger than any of us are! But it was SO amazing to just like be in such a close proximity to such an incredible animal! We were basically running with them!
After our land safari we went back to our campsite and ate lunch and took naps in our crazy hot tents. About 1:30 we got up and got ready to go on our boat Safari. We drove down to the Nile and got on a boat. I sat up in the front so that I could take pictures the whole time!
It was not the most exciting thing ever, but we saw lots of crocodiles, hippos, and birds. On the way back we saw elephants down at the Nile. There was a whole herd, including two babies!! It was one of the coolest things everrrr!!
That night we hung out together talking and staying up late. Becky (my tent mate) and I decided to scare the others while they were in the bathroom. We climbed under their beds until they walked back in and grabbed their legs. Then all four of us went to the other tent to scare the last two. It was hilarious!
The next day before we had to head back we hiked up to Murchison Falls. It was one of the most beautiful sites here. It made me fall in love with Africa and Uganda even more. We hiked to a point where you just got soaked from the mist spraying up and then hiked all the way up to one of the falls where you literally could of just walked right in. It would have killed you in seconds though. It was so incredible powerful and beautiful. There was a constant rainbow over it, that was just so incredible to see.
Then we drove back. It was hands down one of the best weekends that I have had here. So so amazing!
You can see all my safari pictures on facebook by clicking this link - you do NOT have to have facebook to view them!!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
This blog is late, I am way behind on them!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I have been thinking about a lot of different things lately as my time here dwindles down. One is that I am not ready to leave Uganda in 5 weeks. Part of me is, in the sense that I miss my friends and family. In the same moment I am not ready to leave my friends here, to leave this amazing semester and country and continent that I love so much.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
On Tuesday at practicum we first went over our assessments with Dorothy. I was a little confused as to some of the answers, but we talked for a long time about what we have done here, and what we will do. Even though we do not have a lot of time left it was good to understand what she saw in us, and what she wanted us to learn. I am not sure if it will all happen just because of the short amount of time left, and just because many times I feel like we are supposed to learn something or do something, but then never get to.
Some of the things that Dorothy said we had not ‘learned’ yet were things that I felt that I had asked to do, or tried to mention, but then I got sent to the school or to wash clothes. As much as I enjoyed the time with the mothers, I feel that I could have done what she wanted had she chosen to. It was encouraging to see how she thought I was succeeding though, and to just see her view of the work that I had done.
We then went and observed the children learning a new song to sing with their visitors. Both Margret and Denise were leading it. We had dinner with Brigit and David and got to talk some about the children and the home. We played American football with the kids afterwards for a while which was fun.
On Wednesday we went to staff devotions and then spent the majority of the day retyping profiles. We began the process on their computers, but it was taking a long time, and decided to use our own computers, and with two of us working on it we were able to get many done. We took a break to serve the children lunch, and then once we finished at the end of the day we played with the children for a while.
Updating the profiles was a little odd. All we really updated was their age, grade, and added their birth date. So it felt a little pointless. We retyped a good many of these, but that was pretty much it. It did feel like we were getting to do a little more social work so that was nice.
I now have a little over 130 hours, so I am going 10 hours next week and the next, and I will be done. I am ready to be done in some ways, so I am excited. I will miss the kids though, but it will be nice to be done.
Monday, November 1, 2010
This past week was hands down one of the best of my life.
Last Friday we headed out to Soroti for rural home stays. I was in utter terror. I did not have the best Mukono home stay experience, but I was able to deal with it fine because I could come back to school during the day and see people. This however was going to be 24 hours a day, never leaving, constant African family immersion.
We drove the 5ish hours and got to Margret’s house. She works for our program and knows the families that we stay with, and tries to match us up. We stayed at her house the first night. We were going to camp out in tents and have a bonding fire. We set up all the tents, but it began pouring down torrential rain as soon as we finished raining. A few people had decided that their tents did not need to be staked down and we watched as the wind blew them across the yard. All of our stuff was in the tents, so I sprinted out to mine to grab all the stuff I could. I was drenched just going there and back. We spent the night playing mafia and hanging out.
During this time, they were deciding what families to put us with. I was praying that I would be paired. They made announcements and I was not. I ended up talking to the leaders and they told me they would talk to me in the morning about how I felt. So I talked to Margret and she told me that she knew I wanted to be paired, but that they placed me with this family because they thought I would really enjoy it. She told me that she could see something in me that I could not, and that she truly thought I do it. I decided to trust her.
I ended up being one of the first, and thankfully my friends Rachel and Matt, ended up being my neighbors. I met my family, which consists of my ‘mama’ and a lot of boys basically. It is so weird to go from being the oldest of three girls to being the youngest of at least five boys. I am not even sure how many brothers I had.
I had a really nice house. We had electricity which mostly no one in that area has, we had a maid – who I liked a lot and spent a lot of time with – and a boy that worked since my mama was 73 years old. I had my own room, and only my mama, the maid and I stayed in the house. The boys lived in two different not so nice houses in-between the house and the street. We bathed inside, had new latrines, and ate a dining room table. I had a pretty untraditional family as a whole.
The first day I shelled ground nuts (they are a lot like peanuts), learned how to herd goats, made g-nut sauce, and ate SO many oranges. My family has orange orchards and grows pretty much everything (sweet potatoes, maize, g-nuts, cassava, and more). We also took a walk to see the monkeys but because of the road getting wider and what not they are not around, but we did get to see Rachel and Matt which was fun. When I got home I got to see the chickens that my family is raising, and ate dinner super late (like 10!) had prayers and went to bed.
Day two was a Sunday, and my mama wanted me to go the English service at St. Marks, so I had to walk no joke – like two miles to church, and saw two other USP students. Church however was at 7 am, which means I had to get up at 6. When I got back though we had Chapati for breakfast which was awesome! I went and took a nap cause I was so tired, and my mama was at church at another place for the Atesso service. Then when she came back the people who started and run the Village2Village program (its really cool you should look it up!) and I got to talk to them for awhile which was extremely interesting. Then two of the brothers (Peter and Kenneth) and I took a hike up this huge hill. We saw the president’s old house, and just looked around. It was sooooo pretty to see! However, whoever created ankle length, wrap around skirts, really could not of planned for whoever wore them to have to hike up and down huge hills in the bush of Africa – just saying. When we went home we washed dishes for the second time and then got to roast corn. It is actually really good.
Day three I was sent with Peter and Simon to work in the garden…. Well that turned out to be me standing there while they hoed the garden. Peter would have me do one, but then he would go back and fix it. So I did a few, but he fixed all but two. Then we had breakfast – chaptai and boiled egg. I hate boiled eggs, but I ate that yolk cause Chapati was so worth it. Then Peter, Kenneth, and I walked to Kenneth’s families compound and sat in his hut for awhile then got the wheelbarrow to take home. I then hung out with Julius (another brother) until lunch at four.
So we are sitting there talking and Julius says do you know how to play cards, and I ask what game and he just gives me a blank stare and says cards. I do not really know how to respond at this point, so he explains ‘cards’ to me, and it is a game that sounds like go fish, so I am thinking this will be easy. It ends up being a weird form of uno that essentially made no sense. I also laughed when they told me that spades are called super, and clubs is called flowers.
Julius, Peter, Kenneth, (and Annette and Simon sometimes too) and I had a variety of interesting and strange conversations this week. Their favorite subjects were Obama and women so I am sure you can imagine. Julius and I had a talk about Obama where he kinda agreed with me, but then we were with everyone and all of a sudden his opinion changed. It was interesting. Someone said Obama is my hero, and I asked them why. Their answer he is African. I said actually he is not he is American. The response I get – NO he is from Kenya (I love when they think they know more about America than I do). I proceed to tell them that he is American, that he was born in America so it does not matter where his father is from because he CANNOT be president unless he is American. So I ask again, why is he your hero what did he do for you. The response I get… Uhhhh he is black… Really that is why he is your hero.. Cause he is black? We had to have this conversation and an extension of it way to many times.
Their other favorite talk to have was about white women versus black women. They liked to tell me that ONLY girls cheat – which is far from true - and that therefore they want white American (they could settle for European though…) because in their minds they are perfect. I will not even get into the details of this, but it made me a little sad that they view their world so harshly. So many of them want to move to America because, well in their own words it is heaven. I tried to explain that it is not heaven and that they should stay in their country, and just the value of culture and what you can do where you are, and your own women…. It was quite interesting.
The rest of the day I shelled more g-nuts, ate more oranges – I had like three a day, had dinner prayers, and went to bed.
Day four I learned how to make Chapati – I am basically a pro at rolling it now haha. I also went and visited the village2village site which was really neat to see. This was also the day that I got to kill a chicken. I enjoyed it way to much. So you know how most people will break its neck or chop it off? Well that is not what we did. I was told to stand on the feet and the wings, then I was told to hold the head up a certain way. I was then handed a not sharp knife and told to basically saw through the neck with it. I had blood splattered everywhere and halfway through the rooster was making noise and not happy at all, but I did finish and get it off. We then de-feathered and gutted it which was pretty neat too. And let me say it tasted SO good. I rolled more chapti later that night and we got them for dinner!
It gets dark here around 7, and for some reason the moon would not be out until like 10. When I was outside at about 8 or 9 the sky was so pretty. I saw more stars than I ever have in my life. I wish I could of captured it.
Dave five I was taught how to make mandaze – my favorite – took dried maize off of the cob forever – my hands were SO sore – and went to visit the fish farm. It was pretty interesting. They raise Tilapia and Catfish so I got to see them from eggs to however many months the biggest ones were. Then I hung out in the kitchen while we made dinner, and that was pretty much it!
Day six my allergies went wild. My family had a cat which I am allergic too, but I had been taking my allergy pill every morning and a Benadryl every night but after that many days my face just couldn’t take it anymore I guess and I could not stop sneezing. One of the interns brought me antihistamine, but all four of them did not help me, just gave me a bad headache. That day we met up with Matt, Rachel, and one of their brothers and went on a walk to the research center, which was quite interesting. It was started by white people but is now run by Ugandans. They have all sorts of plants and animals that they are trying to better basically, for example they developed a seedless orange tree. So that was pretty neat. Then I just hung out with my family had dinner, prayers, and went to bed.
Day seven was sadly my last day with my family .I made Mandaze with my mama, and we took some family pictures. I got picked up right after breakfast, I was sad to leave but really happy to see everyone. We then headed to Sepia Falls. All we really did that day was have a short debrief and hang out and get to finally talk to each other again. We all had such different experiences, and the IMME group was in a different city so it was good to get to hear everyone’s stories.
Day eight was amazing. We took a hike to see two of the falls. The first one we went to was the biggest one. We could feel the mist on our way to it, and to see it was so beautiful. We were soaked just standing near it, but it was incredible to see.
We then hiked to the second falls. There were two waterfalls, and we came up from behind them in a cave and got to stand under them. I was freezing and soaked to the bone but it was BEYOND incredible. I felt like seeing these just showed me once again how big God really is. I mean there is not way something this beautiful was an accident, and just seeing how huge and powerful this water was, made me wonder how people could ever see something this amazing and not believe in God.
Later that day we got to go to a coffee plantation place and see the whole process of coffee from the bush to being roasted. I wrote a huge essay on this and I love coffee so It was pretty neat to see. We got to take part in the process and got to drink coffee at the end which was great too, since it was the first good coffee I have had since being here!
That was pretty much it. We hung out some more and came back the next day. I had an amazing week, I got to eat good food, interact with an incredible family and had one of the best weeks I have had since being here! I thought it was going to be awful, but turned out I could not have been more wrong. I loved it!
It was interesting though, that although this week was great it made me really miss my family and friends even more. I really love my family. Even though we all have our issues, and even though we do not always get along, they all mean the world to me. My family has been there with me and for me since day one, and even though I normally do not get to see them at this time, I would have had other people surrounding me that have become like family to me.
This year I am not going home for Christmas. I am spending it with my grandparents and wonderful aunt and uncle. I am super excited about this because I love them all dearly and I have not gotten to spend a Christmas with them in a long long time. However spending this whole week in a family, just made me truly realize how much I love and miss my family. My papa has always been someone that I can respect and love. He has taught me more than anyone, and even just being here in general I have realized how much I love him being my pastor and how weird it is to hear other people preach every week. My mommy is probably the most amazing woman on planet earth. I have never seen someone do so much. She loves people so much, and has always been at my papa's side helping him. My sisters and I did not always get along for some reason or another, but they are so dear to my heart. I love them both so so much.
I know that this may not all be about my homestay, but being a daughter and a sister to someone else just really made me miss my family so much. In many ways I feel as though I am ready to be done. We only have about five more weeks of classes though, and I am getting excited to see the end and get to see my family, and my friends again.
P.S. I am having issues uploading photos, so more pictures will come!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
So apparently today marks the halfway point of me being in Uganda. This could be wrong, but it is close enough. Today also means that I only have 57 days left.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
So this past Saturday a group of us decided to go rafting on the Nile. We went Grade 5. I have never been rafting before so I had no idea what to expect. We decided to do Grade 5 cause we figured, well we are already rafting on the Nile River, we might as well just go all out – so we did.
We got there and ate breakfast. Then we had to get in groups of seven and tell the man if we wanted to go mild or crazy. In the end this meant do you want your raft guide to flip you… We did not know it meant that. So Lindsey, Alayna, Leah, Becky, Grace, Jen, and I all yell CRAZY. The man completely in charge of everything must have thought that we were funny or something, cause he looks at us and then goes… You guys are with me! So we are super excited.
We start off last. As our guy was the main man, he had to make sure everyone else got out ok before his raft went. The whole day was a love - hate relationship with him. I got pushed off of the raft in the first five minutes that we were on it. He was teaching us how to ‘get down’ into the raft so that we would not fall out. So he used me as an example of what will happen if you do not get down fast enough. He tells me to fall out of the boat…. I say WHAT? And he just pushes me out, and then goes, why are you not holding on to the rope… Uhhhh…. It was funny. They he taught us – again using me how to pull each other up out of the water using our life vests. Our life vests were so so tight on us. They had to be so that we could pull each other out. We had helmets too – so no worries it was safe! Then we got taught what to do if we flipped. So we all held on the rope as out guide – Doug – flipped us over. Then he told us to get back in the boat… Not one of us could pull ourselves up, that is when we became useless he said haha.
After practicing how to paddle, fall out, pull each other out of the water, etc… We got to our first rapid. It was only a grade 2, but a taste of everything. We actually got told to jump out of the boat, and learned what to do if we were to fall out, we just floated down it with our legs up so that we would not get hit by rocks. The other thing to do is when you are under water to curl up in a ball in order to pop up faster. We rafted for 30 miles and had a lot of rapids. My raft got flipped twice, and I am pretty sure he did it to us on purpose, cause he never hit the water, but we were all drowning in Grade 5 rapids. They were fun, but it was crazy. In one of the rapids that we flipped in, I got stuck under the boat. The boat had been flipped but I was not in one of the parts where there was air, and waves were still hitting me. In my head I was sure I was going to drown in the Nile under this raft. I was able to crawl my way along the boat until I reached the surface. All my friends thought that I was like going to die, because my lips were blue from the cold and the life vest was so tight it was hard to get air. Alayna and I have laughed a lot about the first time we flipped, because we surface right next to each other holding on to the boat, barely able to get air, and all that I can say is I lost my paddle I lost my paddle, Alayna is like it’s OK.
For lunch we each got half of a pineapple and biscuits. It was so good. Then we kept rafting. There were a lot of flat parts where we just had to paddle and paddle. We are all SO sore today. One of the grade 5 rapids was CRAZY. Well they all were but this one especially. We had to go down this area with rocks and then we went down a 15-foot waterfall, our raft is 14 feet which means a vertical drop. He told us NOT to fall out unless we wanted to lose our life, and NOT to sit in the raft, only to be on your feet, unless you want, things I cannot write on here. We got stuck on the rocks so we had to bounce up and down and then on the waterfall you have to look off to the side so you do not smash your face into the person in front of you. Now, I am not a very heavy person, so as we go down I am looking off to the side to not get smashed and holding on the boat with everything I have, yet even still I practically fly forward, and body slammed poor Leah. Thankfully she was there though or I probably would have flown out. Our guide tapped my helmet and was told me he thought that I was going to fly out the front of the raft!
The other crazy rapid was at the end and was called ‘The Bad Place”. It was at the end of a Grade 6 rapid, which is one that could only be rafted by Kayaks. So we had to walk around part of it, and then get on at the end. All of the other groups went around the worst part in the middle and went down a still pretty decent sized rapid on the side. Our guide makes us paddle into the heart of this mass of waves and currents. It was INSANE. We are pretty sure that he just wanted to flip us. Cause we got out of it, and then he made us paddle BACK into it. Then he was mad that we did not flip.
The day was insane. We got called Team Estrogen by our guide all day, got loved and hated by our guide, got flipped over, went through crazy rapids and had one of the best days EVER. I am so glad I had the chance to do that. It is sad, because quite soon rafting on the Nile will be over, as they are building six dams on the river for hydroelectric power which is going to get rid of all but the last three rapids, which is quite sad. Therefore, I am super glad that I got to experience it now, before it ends. It was by far one of the most fun, and best days of my life.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
So on Tuesday Alayna and I decided to stay the night at CHAIN in order to experience what happens in the evening, and to work on our hours.
On Wednesday we got up early and helped the mothers. We swept and mopped the floors. Then we attended staff devotions. After that we went out to help Auntie Olivia with the laundry. We then took a break at tea time and walked with one of the child development interns into a village to get rollex. We had tea and talked to Dorthy.
We then served the children lunch and then went and had lunch with Dorthy. We spent some time discussing CHAIN, and Uganda and social work . Then we went down to the school. Dorthy had previously given Alayna a list of children for us to work with. We were able to meet with three. We basically just talked to them to understand their backgrounds. This was difficult to do as we felt as though we were slightly frightening to the children. Quite frankly I do not blame them, if someone came in and told me that the two white girls were in the office (we found out later that sometimes the kids get disciplined - spanked in that office) I would be scared too. One of the children also did not speak much English. The only one that did not look terrified was the blind child... We are going to talk to some more on Tuesday, we have two children that only go to the school and four that live at CHAIN I believe. We did tell them that they could talk to us whenever they needed someone to talk to, and that we wanted to just be friends and talk to them, so I am hoping that maybe as weeks go on the kids will trust us more. Yet at the same time, I know that in four weeks my hours will be over, and I am not sure that I have enough time to really do anything.
After we talked to the kids we spent some time talking to Dorthy about how it went, and she told us some more of their story, at least for the girl who spoke little English. I think she wants us to redo some of the profiles, to update them, so that should be interesting as well.
I cannot believe how close I am to done. I have gotten 92 of my 150 hours, and my time here is going by so quickly. Two months from yesterday I fly out and two months from today I will land in the United States. It is so crazy to me that it is going by so fast, that it is going to come to an end. I love it here, and in some ways I know that I will be ready to go back to the U.S. but I do love it here, and it will be hard to leave my kids at practicum along with all the people I have grown so close to here. This is such a different world than the one I live in in America, and I know that I am going to have culture shock. Even though we have not been here that long, life is so different. I am sure though that you will have to hear alot more about this when it comes close to the time that I have to leave, so I shall stop for now.
Tomorrow I am going rafting on the Nile, Grade 5 so that should be lots of fun!!!