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!