Tuesday, September 7, 2010

last thoughts

Well I am home now and getting adjusted to my new life in the states. I say new life because every time I come back from being away, be it a week or 2 months, I pray that the Lord will change me and change my life. I believe that He is doing this. I am immeasurably thankful that the Lord loves me enough to consider it worthy of His time to change me. There are a few thoughts I want to leave before I wrap up this round of blogging til the Lord sends me off on another adventure.
One is a story about a boda ride. I know what you are thinking, I bet she fell off, no not this time. it was one of the last nights in gulu. i was riding a boda home and i saw something, a man was doing something or said something i cant remember exactly, and it made me laugh. and i thought about how i wish i could blog about and take pictures of everything but it just isnt possible and even if i did people wouldnt get it. then i felt the Lord bring to mind that scripture in Luke 2:19 where it says that Mary treasured these things in her heart and pondered them. i felt like the Lord was telling me that some parts of my time away in different places and some things that He shows me are just for me and Him to enjoy, just ways for me to experience His love and the different parts of Him. i was overwhelmed at the idea that the Lord loves me that much that He would bless me so richly not to always share or teach from but just because He loves me. remembering that moment has made me feel less anxious about trying to share everything with everyone and less frustrated when people ask "how was Africa" and expect a one sentence answer.
There are bits and pieces of my time in Uganda that pop up in my head, some funny stories, some sad, and some incredibly random. One of my favorite memories with Catherine was on our way home from our morning workout at Peche stadium. We were walking and I was just a talkin away, as usual, about life and people. I think this time I was talking about Beulah or Evy. I noticed Catherine was walking slowly and was not talking so I look up and she is weeping. I said "o carth you are crying" and she said "you just love them so much" It was so sweet for the Lord to let His love shine through me in that way. It was also affirming that the Lord has put that love in me and I do love those little ones, and their family.
The Lord also allowed me to share tons of scripture with the people I was with. I love to give little notes of encouragement and I feel like this summer the Lord used that to speak truth to people. Especially in hard times like when Nate and Samuel passed away.
By the way the St. Jude orphanage did have the CPR training. 28 teachers, house moms, and older girls were taught first aid and CPR! We are planning to make it an annual training.
I also love living with 20 some people i have never met. It is so fun to meet new people and rediscover things about yourself. It was soo encouraging and affirming to hear people say things about how my faith was evident in the way I lived each day. It is so awesome to hear people recognize the Holy Spirit's presence in you, to point out evidences of grace. I had been thinking about that before I left. Paul talks about that when he talks about perseverance and I think it is such a crucial responsibility of members of the body of Christ.
In the end I know I can not sum up what the Lord has taught me these past two months in a blog post, I recognize I will continue to chew on these things for a while, maybe the rest of my life. But I end the summer completely humbled and increasingly blessed by the experiences I had and people I met. May the Lord continue to use this broken vessel and may the Lord bless all of you who have prayed for and walked this path with me.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Heading Home

The coaster is here....and the long journey begins.....

Monday, August 2, 2010

A good day 7/29/10

Yesterday was such a good day. I don’t think it was one big thing that made it a good day but all the little pieces put together make it a good day.

I got up and went to Pece Stadium with Catherine and did our normal morning work out. Then we walked to the store to get some yogurt for a fruit salad for breakfast at the house. We took it easy getting ready and had breakfast in no hurry. We left for the office around 9. I did a few budget things, some accountability with Nancy and sent some emails. We left the office at 12:30 and went home for lunch. Catherine and Karen went to a round table at Sacred Heart and I stayed at the house for a bit more and got my clothes off the line and made my bed with clean sheets. Then I walked to town with my Bible to read some and write a few notes. On my way there was a kid on the side of the road with a bike that had lost the chain. I walked by and then turned around to see if I could help. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad and I was able to help him put the chain back on the bike. He was thankful and his sweet smile made my afternoon. As he peddled away a caught the eye of a man that had been watching us, I waved with my greasy hand and he smiled in a way that made me feel like he was genuinely appreciative of what I had just done. (side note: the bike was way too big for him. It was a man’s bike so he put his leg under the bar and held onto the seat instead of sitting on it. It is a crazy way kids around here make do with such big bikes.)

I sat at Kope Kafe (the restaurant Jolly and Jamie started as a way to fund HEALS) I wrote a few encouraging notes. The great part about writing those sorts of notes is that you get to read all the wonderful promises of the Lord that you want to remind your friends of. I was reminded that the Lord loves me and has a plan for me and will take care of me and draw near to me. Then I headed to St. Mary’s for a roundtable meeting. The meeting went well and they are planning to do an active strategies workshop that I will attend next week.

Sarah and I left St. Mary’s together and headed to St. Jude’s orphanage. I hadn’t been back since the day Samuel died. I had been wanting to go back but hadn’t found the time when I had the emotional energy to be there again. As soon as we got off of our bodas we were greeted by little ones who were ready to play. They grabbed our hands and we were off. We sang and danced around. I sort of made up this game were we would walk and say “low low low low” and crouch down and then say “high high high high” and jump up and down. We would walk the length of the house and when we got to the end we would clap. We did quiet and loud, fast and slow, and shaky and straight. It was so fun and they loved it. Of course they wanted to do that game over and over again but that was ok with me because I was just soaking up time with them. When the older kids got home from school the girls changed and we met with them in the book room. Karen and Raysa had come to teach them some American dances. We did the Macarena (we didn’t have loud enough speakers so Raysa sang) and the electric slide (we just danced around with no music). Then they showed us some of their dances. We each had a teacher or two and then we had a dance off. It was pretty funny. Then the girls sang and danced a few songs for us. Afterwards they broke up in partners, older girl and younger girl, to read together like they have been doing for the past few weeks, a program Jen and Michelle have started. They are very hopeful that the twice a week club will continue.

Karen and I left together and headed to Kope Kafe for movie night. Of course that was a bit of an ordeal. We had to switch computers, boda home to get a different movie, and wait a while for the food we had put in an advanced order for, but by the end of the night everyone had a good time and good food. After the movie Trisha and I looked at old pics from 2 summers ago and remembered some hilarious stories.

Like I wrote, it wasn’t one big awesome thing it was just a great combination of productivity, interaction in the community, encouragement, and fun.

Send off

Last weekend was the first time I went to Jinja and Kampala and did not leave. I travelled with group 1 and Catherine to Jinja sat. morning. We stopped by the craft market briefly and met with with Emmy Jolly’s husband to get some money and then headed to Jinja. We arrived shortly before dinner and enjoyed a delicious veggie burger on the deck overlooking the Nile.

Then the next morning we all got up had breakfast, some bungeed, and most headed to raft. Lisa and Lindsay and I went on the jet boat. Its like a jetski/boat. It works like a jet ski, sucking up water and spitting it out to propel, but it has 8 seats plus the driver. I thought we were going to go down the river but we just pretty much stayed around adrift doing donuts and skimming inches past rocks at 50 miles an hour! It was pretty insane. We went up a few rapids and went airborne. I think it was much scarier than rafting. It was about an hour and then we headed over to meet Catherine by the pool at the hotel next door. It was absolutely lovely.

We made the trek back to Kampala after the last group of bungee jumpers jumped. The normally 1 ½ hour drive took 4 hours because of all the traffic. There are tons of vehicles in the city now for the African Union and tons of security so traffic was insane. We took a vote and decided to go to Lotus, an amazing Mexican restaurant in Kampala and skip the hotel buffet of beans, rice, and chapatti, thank goodness! So we dropped our things at the hotel and went off to dinner. Dinner was delicious! Cindy, the mango margarita was sooo yummy! Fresh mango from Uganda cant be beat!

The hotel we stayed at seemed kind of like a haunted house mixed with the labyrinth. There are so many stair cases and it is so quiet and empty. I learned later from Jolly that her house is actually not far from there and right next door is a member of parliament that she is good friends with. We didn’t really hang out at all once we got to the hotel. The rooms were spread out and only one or two per room so we just got in, cleaned up, and went to bed.

Catherine and I got up around 4:20 to see group 1 off. They were all trudging down the stairs with tired, happy faces as they started off on the last leg of their journey in Uganda. (read Amber’s email post to know more about that). We waved good-bye to them and headed back to our room to catch a few more hours of sleep. We got up around 8, packed our things, and headed down stairs to meet James the driver for our ride to Nakumat. Nakumat is a shopping center in Kampala right beside Garden City where we always go the first day in Kampala to get money and shop. Nakumat is so much better than Uchumi (the grocery store in Garden City). Also in the same shopping center is a restaurant called CafĂ© Javas. O my goodness! I can not explain to you how delicious our cinnamon banana pancake and fruit salad for breakfast was. I actually had an awful headache so I fell asleep for an hour and a half and Catherine sat and drank coffee and made lists. She was so good to me and wanted me to feel better before we went shopping. I know you are all amazed that I could fall asleep in such a loud public place…haha.

We left and did some shopping and walking around and then went back to get lunch/dinner before we headed with Andrew (from IC) and Molly (the new intern that had just arrived) back to Gulu.

I have to share what I got. I ordered a tuna fish salad sandwich and it was AMAZING! On whole wheat toasted bread with these delicious masala fries! It was exactly what I needed to get over my headache and get amped up to start my last 2 weeks in Gulu.
Driving back in an IC truch was SO nice compared to a matatoo or (I can imagine) a bus, so that was a plus. The rest of the week was pretty normal. We have had a ton of rain but that African sun dries it up pretty quickly.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Amber's story

This story is from Amber of Group 1 about their travel home starting in the Entebbe airport

So... we got to the airport at 5:30. The woman at the first door told us to go to the next the door. The woman at that door told us we could not come in until 6:00 and we had to go through the other door. As we waited in between the doors, a line started to form at one of them. Around 6:10 a women came out and told us the system was down and they would have to check us in manually soon. The people at the front of the line were kind enough to form a blockade to allow all us of to go in front of them.

Once in, they hand wrote our boarding passes and informed us that because they were offline, they could not check our bags through to New York and that the airline would do it in London. On the plane, we were told that we would have to collect our luggage at baggage claim and recheck it. Then we were told not to collect our luggage but to follow the signs to connecting flights. Either way, we only had an hour.

We booked it to the connecting flight check-in where we were informed that not all of us had seats because we had not been checked in from Entebbe and they were working on the luggage situation. The attendant collected all of our passports and baggage claim barcodes and gave us boarding passes and sent us through the layers of check-ins and security. Kristin and I were stopped because we did not have seat assignments. Amanda announced that our gate closed in 15 minutes as the woman was calling someone to see what to do. We waved the others on.

Once we were finally cleared, the woman told us to go up the escalator to gate 15, down the escalator to catch the shuttle to the other side of the airport and so on. Kristin and I began running from one side of the airport to other. We were then stopped in security. The prescription label had come off of her face wash and the officer was asking about it. She said, "We have 9 minutes to catch our flight, keep it."

We arrived at the shuttle where the sign said our gate was 15 minutes away. Luckily, it didn't take that long. We got to the other side, ran up two flights of escalators, and finally saw the rest of our group in line to board. We made it!

All of us were a sweaty mess but we had made the plane and the luggage should have made it on as well. We arrived at JFK with less incident, cleared immigration and waited at baggage claim. And waited some more at baggage claim. When everyone on our flight had cleared the area it became apparent that none of our bags had made it across the Atlantic.

We went on through customs where Pat was hassled in front of me. I stopped waiting to be questioned and the woman looked at me like I had three heads and said, "You can go through." I thanked her and we all went on to baggage claim.

There we learned that five of our bags had been randomly put into Nathan's name somehow. One of my bags had last been seen in Entebbe and was under Nathan's name. The other bag was not listed at all. Amanda shared this situation. It was a hot mess.

injury of the summer

ok so those of you who know me or have been following my journey know there is always an injury story of the summer. This summer it happened in Kampala. We stopped to use the bathroom and had to cross a really busy street with a median. The median had grass and a wire fence type thing that was about 2 1/2 feet tall or so. The wire was held by a pole that had metal claws coming off of it. the claws were like metal triangles that were bent a bit. I was walking by nathan and i almost said "be careful of these things" when i threw my leg right into one as i was trying to go over it. it ripped my jeans and made me bleed and is a pretty gross gash and bruise at the moment. ridiculous!

just something fun

How you know you are adjusting to life in Gulu:
1. it only takes you one baby wipe to “shower”
2. you start thinking in broken Brittish English
3. you automatically answer to and give your name in a way that is understandable to Ugandan’s (Daniella, Carthy)
4. you automatically copy emails before you send them in case your internet connection disconnects
5. you wave hi to shouts of “bye!!”
6. sounds of voices from home make you cry
7. you barely notice EVERYONE staring at you constantly or the children laughing at your every move
8. you are used to waving constantly while you walk to town, sort of like a parade every day
9. you are not surprised when you order something and it’s “not there”
10. you have learned to sleep without a pillow because the one you have is like a large boulder