Monday, September 27, 2010

Something I've learned.

Being in Uganda I have learned a lot. I feel as though perhaps parts of being here have not been as big of an adjustment for me as they are for others since I did live overseas so long, but there are no doubt still struggles. Even though I did live in Morocco, Uganda is a whole other world.

We talked about culture shock in my faith and action class yesterday. I do not think I have had any major culture shock, because I sort of knew what to expect. This does not mean that I love everything, but at least I was mentally prepared. Also, I think that since I have learned how to adapt in other cultures, it comes a little easier for me. At 12 years old I went from living in small town Bedford, Indiana having been only homeschooled, and in Catholic school, to a French public school. Then I went from that European life to being thrown into a Muslim country, going to an American school will all Moroccans. Then on Sunday's I went to church with pretty much all Sub-Saharan Africans.

My life has been a melange of everything. And I love it. And I truly believe that because I had to adjust to so many different cultures, coming here was easy in a sense.

At the same time, I can admit that despite my background of culture, I am still learning alot about people, and myself. Today I was handwashing my laundry and realized even a few small things. One, my clothes are never going to get good clean here, but that is ok. haha. Two, I will probably never take ANYTHING for granted again. Ever. Three, there are a number of things that used to drive me insane, that will likely never bother me again.

I feel so much more relaxed this past month or so than I have in a long time. Thankfully, I have a lot less work this semester. I was writing about 5 essays a week for Social Work back at Valley Forge, and here I do have a lot of reading and I am working over 15 hours a week at my practicum site, but I am so content.

There are a lot of difficulties being here. There are days that are hard, there are days that are easy. There are days that I am homesick for three different places, and there are days where I am just so in love with this place. Even on the days where I kinda want to go home, I love it here. I would not trade the four months that I get here for anything in the world.

The choice I made about a year ago to apply to the Uganda program, and the choice I made to come about 8 months ago, was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I have never traveled to live anywhere outside the United States without my family, and I really missed them being with me in a 'foreign country' at first. However, this is one of the best experiences of my life.

When I was applying I stressed myself out trying to figure out if I should come, but God pulled it all together perfectly, from application process to funds. Even here God has done so much in my life. In every way. When I finally decided to make the choices that were right for me beginning with Uganda and continuing with a number of other choices, that God showed me were right, my life has begun to fall together in ways I never imagined. There are still stresses in my life, and things that still have yet to fall into place, but I am finally learning to let go and trust God, and its making things so much better.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This weekend, Honors College, and USP, spent Saturday and Sunday in Jinja. We left at 8 on Saturday and thankfully the resort we stayed at is only an hour away. It was such a nice place.

The food there was amazing, which was great for me haha. We spent the time, pretty much just haning out and relaxing. We had some activities the first day as a group, then we went and saw the source of the Nile, and today we had church.

Seeing the source was quite fun, we climbed over rocks in the Nile to get to this giant rock. It was pretty fun. Then this morning some of us got up super early and watched the sunrise.

We came back pretty early today, but I had a great time. It was not super exciting, but it was a lot of fun to get to just eat good food, hang out, and relax.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Practicum, Last day at home, "The Shower Club"

(From my window at homestay - sunrise)

First things first, my practicum this week... Well, if nothing else it is interesting. I spent Tuesday washing clothes (squatting and by hand) and then playing with the school kids for about the last hour I was there. Wednesdays are my long days, I am there about 10 hours, and it will be a little more next week now that my home stays are over. I went through the blind children's profiles and talked with my field director for about two hours (there are not really any rules regarding confidentiality here). Then I took about an hour and a half walk around the entire area - all the gardens, up and down hills, jumped little rivers... I got a major workout haha. Then he showed us the pump for the water. We fed the pigs. Then I served lunch, and then went and had my own lunch. Then the other girl that is a social worker there came and we washed clothes again, and then learned how to milk a cow. There are pictures I just have to get them from her!!! Then we watered the garden. It was kinda funny, because the guy in charge of the garden kept telling us that if you did not water the cabbage it would die, but that if you did water it then it would grow back... I am sure he thought we must be completely clueless. Ha.

As for home stays, as hard as it was some days, it is probably one of the most memorable experiences of my time here, and my life. I will never forget these past two weeks. My time there ended well, I may not of gotten all my homework done last night, but I did have a good time with my family. I told them that I had not gotten the pictures printed out for them yet, but that I did have something else for them. I gave them two 'America' Old Navy shirts, earrings, two packs of silly bands, and a candle - all from the U.S. They were so excited. They were shocked that the candle had scent and were all passing it around smelling it. The kids and I sat on the floor and opened the silly bands. They loved them. The about 15 year old girl who helps around the house was playing with them too, and they were all fighting over who had the most, Betty was putting them on too, and the baby was grabbing at them. It was so funny.

We then watched some weird movie called something like Her Power... It had something to do with Tribal Sacrifices, and was in English but then dubbed over in Luganda, so you heard bits of English, but as it would start about 3 seconds later the Luganda would. It was.. interesting to say the least. We then ate dinner, ironically I ended up eating on the floor with everyone else, mainly cause I was already sitting there. It was just funny cause they usually have me sit at the couch. I stayed up till about 10:30 with them and then went to bed.

This morning was pretty normal, but Betty walked me to school with some of my stuff. I am gonna go back and visit to take my pictures, and since I love sugar cane I think one day Betty is gonna bring me some which is really fun!

(Mama, Vivian, Isaac, Betty, Arnold, Mama Vivian, Dorean)

As for the Shower Club... Well, you know how in the States on someone's birthday you give them spankings? Here they give you a... shower. Yesterday was one of the guys (Arissa) birthdays. As soon as I walked up the hill from home stays I see plotting. They had locked the poor boy in his room (there is a blot inside the room, and a padlock on the inside.) Once they had all their buckets full, they went inside and it took about 10 minutes but they dragged him out, and as you can see below, gave him a shower. It was QUITE entertaining!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One month.

Exactly one month ago I woke up in my best friend Dave's house in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He drove me to Valley Forge and I went and said goodbye to my dearest friend Becky (by the way - I really miss you both.) After that I walked over to Phil's apartment. He drove me the whole long drive to D.C., complete with chocolate chip cookies from his mom (which were amazing of course!) and a couple of mountain dews.

Three hours later I was sitting in a car saying goodbye to my best friend in this world. It was probably one of the hardest moments of my life. Every other goodbye we had had, I was still in the United States which involves cell phones and east internet access. This was very different. I was moving to Africa for the next four months. I was leaving at the end of summer and will not be back till the cold days of winter. That goodbye still rings in my head, it was so hard to walk away.

One month ago, I walked into an airport. Missing my family and already missing that boy. I was immediately greeted by a mass of people who were telling me their names and asking questions. I wanted my parents and Phil. I wanted a minute to sit and gather myself, but there was not a second. I am still not sure that there has been one. I felt out of place and just wanted something - someone familiar.

About 3 hours after my goodbye I had gone through security, eaten pizza, and was boarding a plane. I was trying to make all my last phone calls to my family since I had no clue as to when I could talk to them again. I got on the plane and just wanted to cry. I am not good with goodbyes and I had had so many that week...

About 24 hours later I landed. In AFRICA. It had not felt real up until that point. Some days, I still have to remind myself that I am here.

The first two weeks felt like two months. I was tired and ready to go home. I missed my papa and mommy and just wanted to sit for more than 5 minutes. They had us going 24/7 and I was just ready to be done.

Then we finally got into a routine - kind of. Classes began, I started my practicum, and I could kind of know what was going on. I got thrown into home stays, but now that too is over tomorrow.

I am in disbelief that I left the U.S. a month ago. I only have 83 days left here, that is less than three months! I am so very glad that I made the choice to come here. I would truly not have it any other way. There are hard days. I get hungry alot, I have a crazy practicum (that will be the next blog no worries), everything is different... I will not deny that there are not days that I would love to have 24 hours in the U.S., a hot shower, a steak, and ice cream. America is definitely convenient, and so easy to live in, even on a bad day, but I love it here.

I am learning a lot about myself and just life in general. I still have to deal with stuff in the U.S. such as classes for next semester which is difficult from this side of the world, but I am learning patience to the umpteenth degree, in more than one way. Things simply run differently here. Our leaders give us few details cause things may change, grade setup is different, I do not have an unlimited texting plan on my cell phone, etc... But I love this life too. It is so much more simple. People live. It does not always make sense, families have random people in their houses, hardly anyone has electricity, and most people grow a great deal of their food.

I could talk forever about everything. To put it simply a month ago I left, to a country I had never been to. Excited, yet nervous all at once. I am having the time of my life and beyond happy that I came here. I do miss everyone so much, but this once in a lifetime opportunity... I am so glad I took it. And even though things are different, things are good. I quite love my life right now.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chapati, Maize, and Mandaze


So, I had a great weekend. I spent practically the entire weekend in the kitchen which is GREAT for me. I have missed cooking SO much.

(Boiled Maize)

I had asked my family to teach me to make Chapati, and it turned into a whole affair of making all the food listen above. We ended up spending a good part of the morning sorting through dried maize to pick out the bad ones. We had a HUGE pot full of it. Then we had to boil it for several hours until it basically looked like corn. Then we laid it out to drain in the sun for awhile. After that we had to fry it. We fried it for what felt like forever, and even had to finish it up Sunday morning. The stuff is so so good, probably one of my new favorite snacks, especially once it is mixed with g-nuts!

(Fried Maize)

While the maize was boiling we made Chapati. It is so simple. All it is, is a LOT of baking powder, salt, flour and water. You knead it altogether and then roll it out. We deep fried it, but most people just put a little oil on the pan to cook it, but you have to have a frying pan for that, which my family did not have. So I rolled them all out and fried them myself! On on open fire :) I am quite proud of myself.

(Chapati and tea - the gave me FIVE in total to eat!!!)

They all thanked me for cooking for them, which made me laugh, since it was they who were teaching me! I told them thanks you for teaching me, my host aunt told me that even tomorrow in the morning she was going to teach me Mandaze. I sat in the kitchen with them, even when I was not cooking. My eyes watered the whole time from the smoke (they do not have a great ventilation system) but it was so much fun.

Sunday morning I got up and went out to the kitchen and she taught me Mandaze, which is also easy. All it is, is lots of baking powder, water, flour, and sugar. You make it so that it is like thick pancake batter and then deep fry balls of it. I am sure it is terrible for you but I love it. It is so good.


I am not going to go into too much detail about church, it was better than last week. We missed the first hour, which is the part I had really not liked before, and we were there about 4 hours instead of 8. They had a guest preacher... She was a black woman from Connecticut. I did not like her sermon, as she basically just taught prosperity gospel (that if you believe in Jesus, he will give you everything you want) to a whole bunch of poor Ugandans, who think that she is telling absolute truth. I feel it is very deceptive, however I will not go too far into this topic...

I will put more pictures of church up on the next blog, as I have to go to my practicum meeting in a few minutes!

I have home stays until friday and then that night we have a sundae social, which I am way too excited about having not had a lot of ice cream or anything sweet since I have been here, it shall be good for me, well at least I think so!

OH, and one last thing, I have been having bad allergies, and it has been worse at my home stay. Thankfully for the sake of my nose and eyes, that is only four more nights. However, waking up with swollen eyes has not been the greatest. And I was just wondering if you could all pray for them to at least calm down, if that makes sense. Thanks!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"You don't put Vaseline in your hair?"

Home stays have gotten so much better. I still do not have the ideal perfect family, like it seems some have, but they are growing on me and I do like them.

Last night my host aunt I believe, came into my room with the baby and the 4 year old girl. They all just sat on my bed and we talked. I showed her the pictures of my family and friends and she is fascinated by my hair. I wash it every night when I get home, but it is so dark that I do not think she has ever noticed. I know the little girl has cause the night the power went out she kept touching it haha. Anyways, my aunt then asked me if I had washed it. I told her yes everyday, or else it gets nasty. She then asked me if I put vaseline on it, I said ohhh no, and she said oh oil then? And I said no no no, haha it would make my hair bad. She then was like, oh ok but when you are at home you do. When I said no for the third time she was so confused. I told her my hair is thinner so you do not need to, but I am still not sure she gets it. She was like so you JUST let it dry? I said yes, and sometimes in the States we use a dryer or a flat iron or curling iron to do stuff with. And the closest thing to oil is mousse or gel to help your hair stay how you want it. She was like oh.... It was so funny, I felt bad for confusing her, I am still unsure if she understood it all.

I am excited for this weekend! They are going to teach me how to cook over an open fire, and specifically how to make Chapati, which also happens to be my favorite thing here! So my dear family is Georgia who I will be spending Christmas with, be prepared for some Ugandan food :)

Home stays and my practicum site.

First off home stays have gotten much better. Two nights ago the power went out literally the second I finished tea. I thought it would be a bad thing, but it was honestly the best thing that could of happened. All four of the kids climbed up on the couch with me and cuddled up and played hand games and just kinda talked in laughed for like two hours. It was so much fun!! Yesterday at home stay was pretty basic, just showered, had tea, read for class, and had dinner. I did talk to mama (my real host mom.. there was a mix-up) and my host aunt (I think?) to teach me how to make chapati and they said yes this weekend so I am super excited about that.

So my mom mix up. I thought my host mom was Betty. I am still very confused by who is who, and who is married to who, but I am pretty sure I will remain confused. I was in the USP office the other day and was looking at the list of host families and students in them and my host mom's name is actually Jane. Therefore, I think the older woman and man are my ACTUAL host parents, but because the younger woman (Betty) speaks English she is the one who has been 'taking care of' me. I am not sure how she is related to them though. It is all quite odd.

As for my practicum... I went on Tuesday for about 4 hours and then on wednesday for close to 10. It went pretty well. On Tuesdays there is a group of us who go (USE and Social Work) then I go on Wednesday and another Social Work student joins me later. 10 hours is a long time to be there, but it is also nice to be able to get my hours finished up like that.

I am still not sure what I will be doing. On Tuesday we spent a lot of time reorienting because of the people that had not been there before and then played with the kids for awhile. Wednesday I spent time just sitting in a classroom, and I did a lot of typing for them. I have heard that Ugandans have not had a lot of practice and so they like it when other people do the typing. I also served the porridge and lunch. When the other Social Work student came they had her do drawing for them. We both also met up with our field instructor as we have to come up with a 'learning contract' for the semester.

It sounds like I will be doing a combination of literally everything. And when I say everything I mean from filling out profiles on children, going out into the community, helping with the garden, cooking, serving food, helping teachers, reading to blind children and more. It should be interesting!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another day at home stay.

So, yesterday's home stay turned out to be ALOT better than my weekend had been. I left my house at about 7:30 with host mom so that she could show me the way. I then spent the day at school and left at around 6:30 to go back. Thankfully there are a few people who live out my way, so I only had to walk about 7-10 minutes of my 20ish minute walk alone.

As soon as I walked in the door my host mom already had my bathing water. So, I took my bucket and cup shower and then it was tea time. They gave me two pieces of bread and a roll! I am gaining so much weight here... I then sat in the living room for around 45 minutes and my host dad talked to me. He does not speak alot of english and I am not sure if he understood everything I said, but he was so sweet and it made me so happy.

I then went to my room for about an hour to do my reading for a class and then at 9 we had dinner. Which was Irish potatoes (normal potatoes-they call them Irish cause the potatoes they generally eat are sweet potatoes) and casava. Unfortunately, it was not the good casava, but thats ok. Then we had g-nut sauce with it. I loved the potatoes.

After we ate they told me I was free to go to bed. So I got my toothbrush and went outside to brush my teeth. It's actually pretty cool cause I can look at the moon and stars and it is so so pretty.

I went to bed about 10, but they sang and prayed I think for awhile. I awoke at four as the radio of course had to be turned on. It is on all the time. And it is a mix of static and preaching, news, and music, I think. I then slept off and on till about 6:45, when my host mom informed me that my bath water was ready. I really only take a half shower in the morning, cause all I have done since my last is sleep. Then I had my breakfast, three slices of bread and tea and was done by 7:15, and there was nothing going on and everyone was busy so I decided to head out. I got to school around 7:35 and soon I am going to head to tea and then class.

Today is my first 'real' day at my practicum site. I should better learn what I will be doing. I am excited.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home stays thus far.

I am going to be upfront and honest when I tell you that home stays are going to be a huge trial and growing period for me. This first weekend there was hard. I did not really have the weekend I expected and I am going to assume that part of that was because it was new for everyone, and that it will get better as the days go on.

At 10 o'clock on saturday they spilt us up and loaded us onto vans to drop us off. I was the second person dropped off and in a sort of haze. A small boy grabbed my hand and the mom led me down to the house. I am still confused as to who lives with who, but I think it is my host mom and dad, their three sons (7, 6, and 21 months), an aunt and her 4 year old daughter, a sick uncle, a grandma, a 15 (I think) year old who lives there to take care of the kids, and a brother. At least that is how it seems, I am honestly not sure who all lives there.

I arrived and they showed me my room and gave me tea, eggs, and three bananas which was so nice. Tea consists of a cup with lots of sugar and some tea leaves. You mix it all up and then let the leaves settle and drink until you reach them. Then I basically just sat around all day while they all spoke in Luganda. It was definitely an awkward weekend. We had lunch around 2:30 and then sat around some more. Another woman came to visit and they talked for about four hours, and we had tea together at five with rolls. (Apparently they were talking about demons, witchcraft, and prayer. I think they are a very religious family). Around 9 they told me to bathe and gave me a jerry can of hot water and a jerry can of cold water, a bucket and a cup. It was nice to have warm water although washing my hair was not the easiest feat, but I managed. Then about 9:30 we had dinner and after they told me i was "free to go to bed". I then went to my room and then they sang and prayed, I think, before they went to bed.

I think my allergies here are getting worse, or else I was allergic to something in the mosquito net perhaps, because my eyes itched so so bad and then I woke up with swollen eyes. I got dressed and then they told me to bathe again. So, I did, even though all I had done was sleep, but what can you do? We then had breakfast (bread and tea) and walked to church about 9. I spent from 9:30 to 2:30 in church, and then from 4:30-7:30. It was a long day.

Church was... different. They spent the first hour kind of just walking around and talking/yelling. An usher came up to me (I was the only Mnzugu - white person there) and asked if i knew what was going on. I of course said no, and he the proceeded to inform me that they were 'casting out the devils, and I could feel free to stand up and cast devils away too'. I decided to just sit. They then had worship and service. All in Luganda, there was some english but it was difficult to understand. They also tend to scream into their turned up too loud microphones... Making it hard to understand. This week is 'crusades week' so they have church every day from 3-8. My host mom was sad that I could not go, but I have classes and we may still go some, but I will not get 'home' until around 6:30. We went home and ate lunch and I read in my room for awhile (whenever we are all just sitting around they tell me to go rest.). Then at 4:30 we headed back to church, and stayed till around 7:30. It was about a 15 minute walk there and so we had to go home in the dark. It gets dark here around 7.

We then had tea at 8, and then shower, then dinner at 9, and then I went to bed around 10. I spend a lot of time in my room just reading for school, or the book I borrowed from a friend. They do not speak to me much, as I do not believe that they speak much english. They have hosted four other girls before me, yet still seem to not understand Americans at all. I feel as though they think I am some sort of a princess at home and will not let me help with anything. I know in other families they will not let the girls help cook cause it is 'too hard' or even use a knife for fear that they could 'cut themselves'. It is odd for me, as back home I cook all the time, I love it, and I clean. Maybe not to the extent or difficultly level that they do, because of more modern conveniences, but i am not waited on hand and foot in the United States as they seem to think I am, as they barely let me carry a tray!

There is no running water in the house and we use a 'latrine' or in other words a hole in the ground to go to the bathroom. I brush my teeth outside using the water from my nalgene. There is electricity, but it is not great and I generally use my flashlight too. There is no light at all in the shower room so i hang my flashlight up using a hair tie.

This morning I got up around 6:45, bathed, again. Then we had breakfast and about 7:45 I walked to school with my host mom. It is all straight so that makes it easier to remember. I will stay at school all day and then go back around 6:15 as I have about a 20 minute walk.

I have to say if I was to do this over, I probably would have been asked to be partnered with someone else. That first weekend is a lot to handle all by yourself, as I am sure parts of the next two weeks will be. But I do pray that it gets easier, or at least just more routine, and comfortable.

I hope that this was not depressing, I know that it will be a great experience for me its just hard to start off sometimes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The sounds of Africa...

Being here is teaching me alot of things... Things that I am great at handling and things that I am not. Beyond just that, there are just alot of differences from Uganda and the United States and even many differences from Georgia.

One of these big differences is the sounds of Uganda. I truly wish there was a way for me to capture them and bring them home to share. When I get up in the morning my window is near a hill, that has been labeled Monkey Hill. This is for good reason, the monkeys are crazy active and sunrise and sunset, and you can hear them screeching at 7 a.m., which does however make it easier to wake up in the morning! There are also birds. I cannot even tell you what they are, but they have the coolest different noises.. Well some do, others I wish I had a gun so I could shoot them...

Last night I used one of those water warmer uppers that people generally use for their tea, and filled up my bucket for my bucket shower so that it was not freezing at 11 at night when I showered. It was so nice to have hot water. But then as I stuck my head under the faucet to wash my hair and the cold water hit me... I truly realized how much I appreciate the United States. I have taken for granted all the nice conveniences I have. Complained on the few days that the showers were cold from the boys dorms showering. I hated my cafeteria and ate my own food many a time. Now, I am pretty sure than anything in my Caf that did not involve rice, beans, or Matoke I would be thrilled with.

Last night we had an honors college party so we could all get to know each other (the people who came with the program and the students that go here) and we had such a good time. When they pulled out the food there was the regular Matoke, rice, but then there was pumpkin, a tiny bit a pasta, this green bitter stuff, Chipate (my favorite), CHICKEN, sauce, and this other meat, along with a GIANT bowl of fruit, and a soda. It was funny, cause a couple of my friends and I saw it all and were like ecstatic about the food, and then we were talking and realized that if we had ever been served this in the U.S. for any sort of gathering or party at our school we would have been like WHAT are they serving us, and gone back to our rooms to eat.

Life here to me is so different. In some ways it reminds me so much of Morocco and in others it is so very different. I miss my friends from home, I miss my family, and I miss conveniences. Although I do not expect Uganda to completely change my life, or help me figure everything out, but it is helping to shape me, and helping me to appreciate everything I do have sooo much more.

I have alot more to say, but its that time to go get ready for life and home stays.

Practicum site, home stays, and bad internet.

On wednesday I got to visit my practicum site which was quite the experience. I am still not 100% sure as to what I will be doing, but I should find out this coming week. The place I will be working at is called CHAIN and is an orphanage (that does not do adoptions). They have about 106 kids that live there and 36 are either blind or partially blind.

I will be going on Tuesdays from 1:30-6 and Wednesday from 8-6 so that I can get my 15 hours in. The other girl that I am going to be going with and I hope to go for one weekend at least as well, but not until after our home stays. I am excited, but nervous about going. It was a lot to take in all at once, and as I am confused about what I want to do later, I hope that this helps. Unfortunately, they do not do adoptions and it will likely be a mix of volunteer and social work, but it will be good experience nonetheless.

This week is also busy as tomorrow we head out for home stays. I am also excited but nervous about this. We are being placed in a Ugandan home for the next two weeks. We will be at school during the day, but we have to be back home at 7 (because it gets dark) and all weekend. It too will be a good experience. I am hoping that they teach me to cook this food of which I cannot remember the name!

I am so sorry I did not post sooner, but we had several power outages that seemed to blow out our internet until a couple of hours ago! Yet another trial of Africa....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week three.

I have officially been to all of my classes at least once. My schedule is not too bad and I am already planning out my practicum times. I have to go for 15 hours a week, but there are really only two days I can go. I am therefore hoping to go on Tuesdays 1-6, and Wednesdays 8-6. Today at 3:30 I am headed out to visit my site. I am super excited.

So far my classes seem pretty good. I do not have hardly any exams/quizzes and it is all essay writing which will be great for me. I am still a little confused about the details for the class, but i figure that there is enough of us in there that we can figure it out. My schedule feels a little hectic as classes go for one hour on one day and then two hours another and my bible class is four total hours spilt into two sections. Mondays and Thursdays will be crazy for me. I do get to go on several field trips though so I am excited about that.

This coming Saturday we being our first home stay. (We have another in November that will be a rural home stay). We have orientation on it today. I am a little nervous as it is two weeks long and only during the second week of classes, but I am excited at the same time. Once it is over we will get a lot more times, specifically the weekends, to go to Kampala and plan our river rafting and safari trips, which I am super thrilled about.

I am glad classes have started. The first two weeks here were just so long and draining as our days were beyond packed with all sorts of stuff, but now that we are beginning to fall into some sort of a routine, it is making life feel a little more normal.

OH lastly, I got a package today from my best friend dave. It made me so happy and loved. Thank you friend :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rwanda and back.

So first off we got up at 4:30 a.m. to head out on a 15 hour drive to Rwanda last saturday. We drove to the Equator in Uganda first. It was sunrise and that is where the first picture was taken. Shockingly, despite being the equator it was absolutely freezing. The drive was long and boring as we could only have ONE piece of technology and I had to have my camera. There was no way I was traveling without that, thus leaving my poor ipod back on campus. Not only was it long, but it was excessively dusty. When we all took our cold showers later you could literally see the red dust just pouring off of us. They when I (hand washed) my clothes today the water was brown. So nasty....
So the second day in Rwanda was a Sunday and therefore we went to Africa church. The above pictures is the crazy road we had to drive on... I hope you can see the giant pot-holes. The Africans told us that on the drive we would 'dance in out seats'.

For our church visits we were spilt into five groups of eight to go to different churches. Mine was more rural and up in a more mountainous area. The church easily had 800 people there. They said that several churches came together that day since we would be there. The church was beyond packed and then as you can see above all the kids were staring in at the windows at us, or else were sitting in the aisles.

They had us sit up in the front of the church in front of EVERYONE. Church was about 2 1/2 hours long and was in Kinya (I think) and involved alot of singing and dancing. They had us each introduce ourselves, and then one girl gave her testimony, one girl gave a short sermon on love, and then we sang Blessed be Your Name, and a rap version of Jesus Loves Me that one of the guys had learned years ago. They LOVED that song cause it had the We Will Rock You beat. We all also had like a dance party in church. It was sweaty and smelly but so much fun. I'm sure all of us Mazugu's looked hilarious dancing with all the Africans.
After church was over the pastor's wife had made us dinner, and wanted to stuff us full! The picture above is me with the man who organized all of church visits in Rwanda.

This girl is not from my church but from one of the groups we picked up. All the kids here yell 'MNZUGU' everytime we walk by or drive by, and then they are either scared of us or want to touch us. These kids loved having their picture taken and all of them had to of shaken my hand about 10 times.

After church we went to the Falls on the border of Rwanda and Tanzania. I crossed the border, and therefore have technically been to Tanzania! The Falls were so beautiful. I loved visiting them.

If you look close you should be able to see a rainbow on the left side. I thought it was so incredible that you could look at these crashing falls and see a rainbow develop... So beautiful. Africa truly has some of the prettiest places I have ever been to.

Our Rwanda trip was filled with alot. We went to several memorials, which I am not going into detail about. If you would like to know feel free to ask, but it was all about the genocide and not something that needs to be discussed in great detail over a blog post. It was interesting and good to learn about, but sad, especially as one of the memorials included a mass grave where we literally looked into the coffin.

Other than that though we did get to do some other stuff. We went to this Quaker place where they talked about their ministry. I am not going into detail about that either because I got a tad upset by the man who spoke.

After that however, we went to the coolest place. It was called Centre C'sar and is a place for widows and for I believe students, where they learn a trade and also help the community. The man above is part of the group that welcomed us with a dance. If I can I will load a video of one of his dances on here. Keep in mind it is not great video quality and you may have to watch part of it sideways but it is awesome. We all ended up dancing with them and had so much fun!

The other really cool thing we did we go to a EXPO trade fair. It was ONLY this week in Rwanda and was so much fun. It was everything from clothes, to chairs, to jewelry, to everything. We walked around for several hours and had so much fun!

The last thing we did was visit a lake. I did not swim cause I have had a cold all week and had no desire to make it worse. However, to just sit in the sun and hang out was SO much fun.

We drove back sunday evening and on the way everyone was talking about how it looked like the Lion King, and then we saw Zebras and everyone was sooo excited. We drove about two more seconds and saw a roadkill zebra.. although sad it was kind of funny. When we got back i discovered that the lockbox they gave us to protect our stuff would not unlock. My roommate and I went to different people trying to get it to be fixed, but it took till after my 11-1 class to fix it. It stressed me out, but I survived.

I began classes today. So far it went well. One of them may stress me out some, but I am hoping for the best. I begin my junior practicum at an orphanage called CHAIN on wednesday with another USP student and I am truly the most excited for that.

That is the most important for now. The rest of this week with our back and forth class schedules should be interesting...!

(For now no video... I am so sorry it would NOT load. I will try again some other time!)