Friday, July 20, 2007

home but not for long


i am home by myself for the first night but i am leaving tomorrow for guatemala. i guess i should be packing but my brain keeps processing things. i think its the first time i have really allowed myself some time to think about things. here are some prayer requests i have before i go.
one is that i will be able to handle and embrace the new tensions in my heart. allie said it well when she said that there will always be a tension in my heart now, i will always be far away from people and places that i love.
another is that i will be a good steward of the experiences i have had. i am not and do not wish to be seen as an expert. i know that i have been blessed to be able to have the experiences that i have and that with that blessing comes responsibility. i want to use what God has done in my heart to get people thinking. they might not come to the same conclusions with the Lord that i have and that is ok. i am learning more and more about how to express myself in ways that allows and invites others to be themselves and express themselves too. i am excited that God has changed my heart and i desire so much for Him to do that for others what ever that looks like for them.
and that my group and i experience God in a new way in guatemala, that we see His face in the faces that we go to help and that we serve Him with our whole hearts while we are gone and that we come back changed.
and lastly pray for the people and the kids that i met in uganda. there are too many to list but God knows. pray especially for my little borehole family. it makes me cry to think of them. i dont know what kind of tears you would call them. i cry for their situation and for the hard life that they live, i cry for the beautiful picture of family they are, i cry that they are in gulu where a big piece of my heart will always be, and i just cry because i dont get to see them, and mostly i cry because i dont know what else to do.
thank you those of you that have been reading and posting and praying and supporting me, it means more than you know.

Butts' wedding!

weddings are multiple day celebrations. we had the bridesmaids brunch and the rehearsal friday and then the wedding sat. it was such a beautiful time. the ceremony was absolutely perfect. the reception was so much fun and there was just a wonderful sense of rightness about the whole thing. i am so happy for my good friends lauren and jimmy. i know they will be happy for the rest of their lives together and i am so blessed to have been part of the day that they became one!
this is from the brunch

this is my pastor skip and his wife courtney dancing at the rehearsal. we are not sure but this may be the first time they have danced together. if not it has been a really long time!

rehearsal


wedding

long journey home

when i say long i mean 50 hours! we took the 5 or so hour flight from entebee to dubai and then the 13 hour flight to jfk. thats when the trouble started. we got in the airport around 8 and my flight was suppose to leave at 1:15. margo said goodbye and left with her friends. phil, bryan, and i had some lunch and then we said bye to bryan. phil and i played cards and waited for our flights together because we were both flying delta. well he went to the restroom and came back and said, let me buy you something chocolatey from starbucks. i said ok sure and then he said "to drown your sorrows in your flight is delayed"
that wasnt the only time my flight got delayed. i didnt board til 6. i had a connection in atlanta that i had missed but i had hope to maybe catch a different one. we were in a long line to take off and i fell asleep. later when i woke up to crackers and drinks in the air i heard someone said it was 10. i was very confused. apparently we didnt leave the ground til 8:15.
we landed around 10:30. i was a little disoriented and confused and tired. i asked about connecting flights and they told me i was confrirmed for the 7 am flight the next morning. i was a little sad but i thought i could handle it.
i called allie and i could tell she was already at home so i told her not to worry about me. i thought i would just get some food and be fine. then i called darby to tell everyone what was happening with me and i lost it. i was just exhausted and could not handle the idea of sleeping over my booksack in the airport alone. darby just said "hang up and call allie" so i did. luckily allie said she was just about to call me back and tell me she was on her way.
it was really great that i got to spend some time with allie before i went home. she was great in helping me sort of talk through some things i was feeling and she is just someone that i love and trust and was gentle with me and i needed that. plus she has a really soft bed (:
so i finally made it to charlotte at 8:15 thursday morning. my mom and chrl met me at the airport and we spent the day together. i got my hair cut and saw a lot of people that i love and it was a good day.

7-10-07 leaving Africa

and then there were 5. we got up and packed up and had our last breakfast in Africa together.
Phil had the great idea of riding to the equator before we got on the plane. we were so close and couldnt not go. so we paid a little extra and had the matatoo take us to the equator and then to the airport. it was a really neat little place. the water actually does spin in different directions on different sides of the line and on the line the water goes straight down! i have it on video on my camera but i cant put video on here...at least i dont know how. so you can just enjoy these pics instead and take my word for the water thing.
in the airport catherine got on a different plane because she was staying in Nairobi for another 10 days.
then there were 4 (:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

7-9-07 us in the Nile


the next morning we got up early and caught a bus to adrift, the rafting site on the nile. it was not a bad ride. we went pretty fast because the roads were pretty good and the bus was nice. on our way we stopped at a roadside market to get some fruit for lunch and a little after that we got pulled over. we were all very confused because there was no way that there were driving laws because everyone drove so crazy. it was funny when our driver came back in with a ticket and pulled down this handle to open up to a little drawer full of tickets and he shoved the new one in and went on his way.
we rafted for 1/2 a day and then stopped on lunch island for lunch. it was so delicious becuase we hadnt had real bread in over a month and they had real brown bread and fresh veggies and lunch meat (i didnt have any of that) and fruit. YUM!
on our way back there was free beer and soda on the bus.
we got off of the bus and it was time to do the paperwork for bungy jumping. thats right folks i bungy jumped over the nile. 150 ft! it was awesome! me, bryan, and seth did. seth was the only one that touched the nile but we all wanted to. there were 2 guys going after me and they went naked for free beer! hilarious!
then we rode in a matatoo back to backpackers. i was a little jealous that he got to ride a boda in kampala. we were advised not to because they are pretty crazy and a lot of injuries and deaths happen because they are so nuts. i am totally riding on one when (notice i said when) i go back.
we got stuck in traffic and realized that seth wouldnt make it back in time so he and amy jumped on bodas and rode to the hostel. we decided to go ahead to the market since it was getting late. we had our driver turn around and go to the market. he tried to give us a hard time because we didnt go to backpackers but we werent having it and we finally got out and headed to the market.
we got back to backpackers and just freshened up for dinner. we were going to take showers and such but we ran out of time and we were meeting kevin and emmay. we went to this really nice indian place. apparently indian food in east africa is really good. it was good but nothing i would write home about.
that night we hung out a bit and then went to bed. we all knew we had a long day the next day and were all pretty exhausted.

exciting event

i dont know why i forgot to mention this but it was one of the highlights of the safari.
when we watching the lion he started moving a little more quickly and the guide looked at me across the top of the matatoo (i was sitting outside the window on the lion side) and he said "you get in" i slip myself as quickly as possible under that bar and inside the matatoo. it was a little scary but so cool!

Monday, July 16, 2007

7-8-07


we got up at 4:30 so we could leave at 5. the matatoo was pretty on time but he didnt get fuel the night before so we had to ride around and search for a gas station that was open and had fuel. once we were on the road we opened up our breakfast of pineapple and hardboiled eggs. we got to the park gate and had to wait for them to open it. they finally opened it around 7. we rode a little while longer and got to this really nice hotel inside the park. we stopped to get the story on the ferry and make sure the arrangements for the second group were all right. we found out that the ferry wasnt going at 9 so we had an extra hour so we decided to chill and have a cup of coffee. it was soo good that we did that.
when we crossed the river on the ferry we heard that the roads were very muddy. some of the matatoos were turning around. our guide said we would make it. the roads were really bad and we saw some people stuck and such. at one point we were all out of the matatoo pushing. the mud was like cement. then when we got it moving we had to run to catch up to it because it couldnt stop or it would get stuck again. once we passed the first two big hills the roads were fine, well fine for africa. my legs were covered in bruises from the bumps and such. it didnt help that i spent most of the time hanging out of the window

or on the top.

we thought we were going to have to rush so that we could leave on time but we decided not to rush and just ride to kampala in the dark. it probably wasnt the safest decision but we just couldnt rush through this experience. especially when our guide got a call that they found a lion resting under a tree.

we saw tons of antelope.

one lone elephant

buffalo

giraffe

boars

and a dung beetle...seriously these things roll these huge pieces of dung to their hole in the ground home

bamboons

we didnt leave the safari til 5 or so and the 6 hour ride to kampala was ahead of us. we finally got to backpackers in kampala at 1130. our matatoo driver was pretty exhausted. you never hear them say they are tired and ours said he was very tired. he had driven all day long! even though amy called 100 times they gave our beds away so for the 9 of us they had 6 beds, all top bunks, not bedding, and no mosquito nets! emmay and kevin decided, since they werent getting up to go rafting with us, that they would go somewhere else so only catherine and margo shared. we found some bedding, enough for everyone to have sheets and just bundled up to keep the mosquitos off. it worked out fine, no one got bitten up and we were all so tired we all slept all night.

Friday, July 13, 2007

7-7-07 leaving gulu

So this morning I was suppose to go on a motorcycle ride to the lake but it didn’t happen because there was something wrong with the motorcycle.
We took our polaroids to put on the wall of visitors. We got packed up and set out for the conference.
It was good to see our teachers one last time. I will miss them and this place.
After the conference we went back to the house to load up the matatoo and headed out. It was really sad to leave. I cant really process it yet I think.
We got to Macindi that evening and had dinner at the court view hotel where we stayed the night. It was really nice. Each room is a private little hut with its own bathroom and shower. The 3 girls shared a room but none of us took advantage of the shower because it was so late and we had all taken a shower recently. Being dirty here has become a non-issue.

7-5-07

This morning terry and I ran and I took some fiber stuff that Lindsay and Hadley gave me so I finally went to the bathroom! I cant wait for fresh broccoli and cereal with fiber again! O and yummy apples!
On the way to school margo and I walked with some little kids going to nursery school and they held my hands! What a sweet moment!
So today was sort of crazy. It is our last day in the classroom because tomorrow is the district wide athletic competition at Peche stadium. All of the schools compete and no one has school. I have heard that it is sort of crazy in that some of the kids are totally there to hook up and such high schoolish stuff. Anyway we heard that there was something special going on so even though I didn’t have class til 12:10 I was at school by 9:30. Unfortunately, I found out that the special thing was a special lunch, so I just sat around for a while. Patrick and I taught our last lesson and I said goodbye to the students.
We usually have lunch at 1:30 but apparently because of the rain and that it was a special meal it was “delayed” til 3:45ish. We were famished. It was a really nice banquet though. There was tons of great food, lime fanta!, dancing, singing, and tons of speeches.
That night Catherine did her last presentation/workshop and I invited Patrick over to have dinner and attend the workshop. He came along with peter phil’s coteacher and we all had a great time. We did a drama based on scientific ethics. I was dr. kavorkian…hilarious!

7-4-07 happy 4th of july!

It has been raining for days! It only sort of stops for a little bit and then starts up again. The road to school is super slick. So today I had early class so I left the house around 7. After class I had a lot of time so I wanted to come back to the house. It was bound to happen and it did…I fell in the mud! Flat on my butt! I wasn’t hurt but I was muddy. The worst part was walking by the old women at the bore hole getting water and them laughing at me and then people on the road saying “you fell” not asking me but reminding me. I would say yes it is ok and they would say “ so sorry”
The cookies were a hit at the round table.
We had dinner as normal but the staff were having a party at the other house. After they were done eating we went over there to hang out and dance. It was so fun! I made popcorn to take…so yummy! We danced for a long time and had a blast!

7-3-07 my cup runneth over!

Today was an incredible day. It started with saying goodbye to the HEALS volunteers, not so incredible. Then I went to the IC office to meet a mentor, Evelyn, to shadow for a bit. IC’s scholarship program is really great and each student not only has to go through an application process and maintain strict requirements but they once accepted they get school fees and financial aid and a mentor. This mentor keeps track of the student and his or her progress and makes sure everything in life is going ok. I got to walk around with Evelyn to three houses to talk with the guardians of the students. Evelyn, like most mentors, has about 30 students she is responsible for. She visits the homes at least once a month and meets with the students at least once a month. It is a lot of work but really great! The first house we visited was a woman who had 8 children but only 3 were actually her biological children, she said she takes care of “desperate children” These kids aren’t even related to her! She just finds out about them through different situations and takes them in. She was really an incredible lady. It is amazing how giving some people are even when they have nothing. She spoke about the Lord and how she just knew that is what He wanted her to do. I told her she had a beautiful heart and she smiled. The next was Florence. We spent the most time here. She is a mother of 5 or 6 and her husband recently died. She was a stay at home wife/mother but has recently had to take up farming to support her family. She was extremely hard working and proud. You could tell that she missed her husband and that things were not easy but there was just something about her that told me she would be ok. She is strong and a fighter and I know that she will make it. Every day around 10:10 we get tea at school and Florence insisted that we stay for tea and mandazi (a fried dough thing that is soo good in the super sweet African tea). So we did. I asked Evelyn if a lot of the guardians gave her stuff when she came because it is such a cultural thing. She said that some did but she tried to get them not to and they usually didn’t after the first few visits. Then we went to the last house. It was pretty far into the little area we were in. We came upon a blind man that was apparently the uncle of the student. When we walked up Evelyn told him that I was there and he was very happy to have me there. He went back to his hut and brought out chairs for everyone. Apparently he wasn’t always blind but became blind from some sickness.
As we walked from house to house I talked with Evelyn about her work with IC and her life in Gulu. She told me about how she came to work at IC and that she missed her family who lived in another part of Uganda but she seemed hopeful that they would be able to move to Gulu soon.
I left the office to go teach my one class for the day at Gulu high. Then Patrick and I went to lunch together. Here comes the good stuff. Here is what I actually wrote in my journal when I go home from lunch:
It’s 3:45 and I am sitting in the living room exploding on the inside! I had the most amazing exchange with Patrick today. We had class (I introduced foldables) and then we went to lunch. Until now, Patrick and I haven’t interacted much on a personal or emotional level. We walked together to lunch and talked a little just about how the program was ending and such. At Bora-Bora we missed the people we were going to meet so it was just us. We walked about the time we have shared and what we have learned. He shared that it wasn’t him learning new things but being reminded of what he already knew and ho to implement it. I told him that I have learned so much about how he can work with so many and with so little and the responsibility of the teacher in the lives of my students. We also shared a lot about our personal lives. He shared about his family and how he misses then and I told him I would pray for them to be able to come here (his wife and children still live in the town he came from because he was just transferred and she might be able to get a job in Gulu). He asked me about my life and I shared a little of my story. One of the best parts is when we shared our memories and we both laughed about when I fell the first day!
It was such a great conversation! It really showed that this program can be successful and that there was good that came from it and was just awesome!
I went home and amy and I made no bake chocolate-oatmeal cookies for our last round table at Gulu high. We had some good discussion about me coming back and what that would look like and how to do it to best benefit the program and the teachers involved…hmm

7-2-07

This morning I had some apple in my oatmeal which was a treat! The apples are not even close to as good as the states but it was nice just the same. I gave half of it to Catherine because she is my fiber buddy (: it’s the small things you know.
It was Amy’s birthday so we took her to town to shop and such and then Catherine and amy and I went to Boma to get massages and hot showers. It was glorious and so cheap. Margo came and met us after her class and we just had some girlie time.
We met 2 guys in the airport on our way here that were taking high schoolers to the southern part of Uganda to build schools. They called amy and said that they wanted to come to Gulu to see what invisible children is all about and such. So Catherine and I went to meet them and show them around a bit. It was fun to meet new munus in Gulu. We shared a hilarious 12 year old moment at hotel roma where we met them. Catherine and I had sort of built up the whole thing in our minds and by the time we were entering the place we had decided that we were about to meet prince charming, just being dumb. So as we were sitting there one of the guys was talking about seminary and she sort of kicked me under the table just to be funny. Well I just grinned a bit to let her know I “heard” her but she couldn’t handle it and just started laughing. I tried to keep it in but couldn’t. It was a horrible time to start laughing because the other guy was telling us about himself. It was just so funny…
We hung out a bit and then went back to the house for dinner. We had special cake for amy’s birthday and made sangria with not so great wine but really really great fruit. Jamie, Catherine, margo, seth, and I made a birthday song to the tune of “I blessed the rains down in Africa” it was so fun. The song turned into a small dance party on the front lawn. The dance party turned into mud sliding (for which I excused myself). The four of them got totally coated in mud. We heard them yelling and such so I thought it would be hilarious to shut off the water and act like we had no water. It was late by this time so they would have to walk to the bore hole in the pitch black night and pump water to wash with. They came around the house and when they found out it was priceless. Poor Jamie had checked to make sure we had water before he jumped in the mud and he felt so bad that he had led in the mud dancing and gotten everyone into it. He grabbed his head and said “this feels like a bad dream” it was so cute. He wasn’t distraught but he was a little upset. We had them going for a while. It was genious!

7-1-07

Today was a great day in Gulu. Catherine and I went to church at Gulu High. The students organize the service. It was awesome, just what Church in Africa was like in my mind. There was singing and dancing and it was great. It really felt genuine. The service is sort of a mix of Catholic and Protestant. The priest didn’t even show up but they still did the service for the most part. It was awesome! I have some great video if you are interested to hear some old gospel hymns Gulu style.
Then Margo and I went to the market to pick up some fruit to take to Grace’s. Grace is the dance teacher at Gulu High. We have been going to dance a lot since we have been here so she wanted to have us over for dinner. Margo, Jamie, and Seth went earlier in the day and killed 2 chickens that she will prepare for hours and then we will all feast!
Grace lives near Irene, another teacher, so her daughter took us to Grace’s because they couldn’t remember how to get there.
We spent a while there with Grace and her family.
Then we all went to HEALS to see the kids dance and the mural the girls (megan and chrstine did). It was a fun time.
Then amy and I went to the market to get stuff for Sunday dinner! I love that tradition because it gives Doreen the day off and it gives us a chance to bond (: plus I love to cook for people. Bryan and Josh and I tried to watch a movie but it was blood diamond and I told kylie that I wouldn’t watch it til I got home and I just couldn’t watch it yet.
I went to bed pretty early but after I had sort of fallen asleep amy came in and gave me a letter from michelle! It was so stinkin great! I loved it. It totally touched my heart. It was great to hear from home and to feel a little closer. Thanks so much michelle!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

6-31-07

Catherine and I went to Gulu High for church. It is a sort of blend of catholic and protestant service but it was super great. It is organized and led by the students! There was singing and dancing and clapping and it felt like an African service. The priest didn't even show up and the students still did the reading and singing and such. It was soo great. I am so glad that I went. I got to see some of my students and really worship in Africa!

We came back and I went and got fruit to take to Grace's (the dance teacher). She had Catherine, Seth, Margo, Jamie, and me over for lunch because we had helped with dance. Seth, Margo, and Jamie went earlier and killed 2 chickens! It was really an experience! She let me help with the rice and pour the water to wash everyone's hands. Her husband told us stories. It is really hard to listen to acholi stories in a hot cramped house after a meal in the middle of the day. I was struggling to stay awake but it was still such a cool time.

Then we went to HEALS to see the kids dance and the mural that the girls painted. It is really a neat place. It is an organization that Jolee started for kids and moms and such.

Then we went shopping for dinner and made Mexican. I really love the Sunday dinner tradition. I love that it gives Doreen the day off and that we spend time together preparing food.

I was pretty tired early so I just went to bed early. Amy came in after I had sort of fallen asleep and gave me a letter! Michelle wrote me a letter! It was so great to get! It was just a short sweet note but I definitely cried. Some of you know that I cant take things when I first wake up and it really just touched me and was so great to feel so close to the people I love again. It was so exactly what I needed right then. It had actually come Friday but Amy forgot to give it to me.

6-30-07

Today was our first teaching and learning conference. One highlight was the cat walk. Amy (film intern) had the camera set up in the middle of the back of the room and the chairs were in two groups so there was a middle aisle. She was having us do catwalks and I sat with Patrick and tried to get him to do one. He said "if you do it again I will do it" I totally jumped on that. So I did it again and he did it! It was awesome! He is so great!



Our family picture.

The conference was really successful I think. The teachers were really into it and I think there was a lot of great discussion. Some of the presentations were hard to listen to but overall I would say it was very successful and most of us are looking forward to next sat. All 3 schools will present on different topics so that should be interesting.

One funny thing is that Bryan and I went to pick up some of the guests who were from Lubiri, the school we visited in Kampala. When we left everyone said that a few of the guys had a crush on me and apparently they had come with the headmaster. They had gone out the night before and Catherine and Margo met up with them and they had asked about me. It wasn't too bad though. One funny thing is that one of the guys asked me for my nametag and he said he was going to hang it in his house. Funny!

After the conference Margo and I went to town with Helen (Catherine's teacher) and Grace ( a teacher from Sir Samuel Baker). We picked up some minutes for our phone and got some fruit. After dinner Catherine, Margo, Angie, Beth, Amy, and I went to Boma for a drink and hung out for a bit. Our curfew has been moved to 9 so we only stayed for an hour.

6-29-07

Today was sort of an off day. I ran but it didn't do the trick. I hope I don't get constipated again. Catherine and I walked to town together and went to the internet café and then she met up with Helen her teacher and they hung out. I did some errands in the market and went home to do some grading. I was supposed to meet up with Patrick but he had to go to the bank so I just finished grading. I was a little tired and the disorganization of the dance really got to me. Sadly it made me a little short with the kids but luckily my sisters (Catherine and Margo) called me on it later and it made me think about some things and hopefully learn from it. Being a teacher is a big responsibility and your impact is huge and you have to be aware of that at all times.

6-28-07

I was supposed to meet Bryan at Boma for breakfast but he ended up having to stay at school so I just had breakfast by myself. It was nice. Boma is sort of a big porch place so you can sit and look outside. It is sort of outside the city of Gulu so it is not busy or loud. I had some yummy African coffee (they make it with milk) and a fruit bowl. Then I went to town to do some errands and then went to school and dance.

6-27-07

I felt much better today. I had 3 classes and planned some and we had our round table after school. Lessons at school have been going really well. Patrick and I are working really well together.

6-26-07

Amy got Catherine and I worm pills and they added to my already not ok tummy made me super sick today. I got up and went to the internet after a night of 4 latrine visits, not the best idea. It was really hot and I thought I was going to pass out. I got some water but it didn't help much. I took a boda back and it was the scariest ride yet. He was going so fast that I actually left the seat when we hit a bump. That on top of not feeling well made me tell him "you slow down" pretty harshly. O well they drive crazy and need to be told. I laid on the couch and missed my 12:10 class. I called Patrick and told him I wasn't coming and just slept on the couch. I was able to make my 2:20 class and just took it easy the rest of the night.

6-25-07 Monday

I think that weekend downtime gives us all a lot of time to reflect and think critically about why we are here and our impact. We have all been struggling with these issues: are we doing more harm than good, are we here for just us? Bryan and I had a really good discussion and I kind of came to the conclusion that we have to rely on God and the fact that He brought us here and He will take care of us and use us in whatever He has planned and whatever that is will work out to our good and the good of those here. I know that some of you have been worried for me and I hope that is an encouragement to you because it sure was to me!

Catherine and I went to Holy Rosary, a Catholic church here in Gulu. Then we had a discussion about how we felt that religion felt like a product of colonialism. The service did not feel African at all. It felt totally out of place and fake. It is scary to say but it is the way we both felt. I saw some people who really seemed into it but I just don't know. It is sad to know that a lot of people who identify themselves as Christians will go to the witch doctors and such if something really bad happens. Sometimes it just feels like the people are mimicking the white man- which is straight from colonialism and oppression.

My tummy hurts and Catherine and I think we might have worms…yikes!

6-24-07

Sat night Catherine and I met Rachel for a drink at the corner café, which is a little bar-ish place. We thought we were going to go dance but it didn't happen. My mom called as we walked and it was great to talk to her. Getting phone calls is the bomb! We had some really interesting conversation about colonialism and oppression here and racism in the states. It was really great to have such different perspectives come together to discuss things. Talking about culture I mentioned that I felt like I didn't have a culture. It is interesting because some things have been so "normalized" that we don't see them as cultural but they are. It is also interesting to think about culture in America because people are so different and there are so many different cultures. After that discussion I felt like I wanted to really analyze my life and find out my culture.

More processing. Not intentionally analyzing things but just sitting with down time and my brain keeps working. Who am I and what of worth to I have to offer and if anything how do I "give" it to these people, this area? I know that there is a part of being here that is for me and that is something that is hard to swallow. At the same time I know that God is teaching me and molding me using this experience and that I am going to be able to share so much and learn so much. Finding my part here in the culture is still important though. I guess my part is in the classroom. I have realized that I am here to get more critical thought into practice, methodology, and technique. It is odd that I am in that role because it seems to be a very mature role and I am still such a novice, but I am here doing what I can. I do think that there will be progress and that this program will be beneficial but I don't know if I will actually see it and it may be very slow in coming. One of the biggest obstacles in the math classroom is the syllabus and the focus on the national tests. It seems very rigid and strict. However, Patrick has made some changes and really seems to be open to trying things and doing his own thing to a certain extent. Another obstacle that seems to be across the board is that Ugandan teachers know what to do and can tell you all about it but implementation is just not there. They can spout of test answers to method and technique questions but they do not implement the theories in their practice. The absence of critical thinking is definitely a result of colonialism and it is so difficult to show someone that they are not critically thinking when they think they are and they really have no reference point as to what real critical thought is. Lastly, the absence of formative assessment means it is hard to track progress and effectiveness of lessons.

I think it is good that I am here but if I am going to do this again I would love to plan workshops and things like that along with teaching because I think that would be very beneficial.

Bryan, Catherine, Phil, and I discussed our time in the camp. I think we felt our presence was not really taken well and sort of invasive. It is tough because it is good to experience because it just isn't real on tv but it is not good because of the impact your presence can make and such. The "disguise" of doing a job felt very contrived and fake. How to make that a reality and still maintain integrity and dignity of the people in the camp is a question we wrestled with.

Later that night I was just sitting around. Being in a crowded house but feeling alone is a strange thing. Its funny because I feel like we are really close but there is still a part of me that feels far away and unknown to people here. I have really realized that learning to let people in at home and the relationships that I have there really make a difference in my life. I am so blessed to have such close friends that are my family.

We cooked Sunday dinner again and it was super fun. I love to cook!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

6-24-07

More processing of the last days events and my time here has brought me to a little bit different place. I think that my place here is in the classroom. God has gifted me with the passion and ability to teach and I am using what He has given me to help His children in a destitute land. I feel most connected and engaged in the classroom lately and have to cling to that to get me through the other emotions. Also being aware of my disconnect and my displacement here and the impacts I can and do make is very important and I am glad that I can critically think about it. I feel like my purpose here is 2 fold. 1 to offer ideas and methods in the classroom and 2 to empower the teacher I am working with to know that he is worthwhile and what he does is important and that he has expertise and should make his voice heard to make changes (if that is what he wants). The idea of getting an acholi to think critically is a very huge endeavor. A byproduct of oppression is no critical thinking and we are seeing that every day in multiple ways. In the discussion with the ambassadors wife a student asked if the way African Americans dressed was bad. We were a little confused by the question but he wanted us to tell him if it was good or bad. We said what do you think, and he just sort of stared. He didn't want to know what he thought he wanted us to tell him what to think. That happens a lot in the classroom. Students are not taught to question or investigate but are just spoon fed information to memorize for tests. A student asked me to redo a problem once and I said no. I told him he had to show me what he didn't understand because if I just redid it the same way nothing would change. He was so confused.

We went to Holy Rosary church. It was packed out. It was odd because the priest was white and I think from Verona. We sat in the back and side in a sea of kids. It took them a while to get used to our presence but they eventually did. Jamie, an intern that lives with us, did a reading and he is volunteering and singing in the choir so that was neat. Catherine and I discussed that the Christian religion here is sort of an affect of colonialism and therefore oppression. It is hard to take because they think they know but I don't think they do. A lot of people who identify themselves as Christians will, when something really bad happens, go straight to the witch doctor.

Sunday's Doreen is off so we cook dinner together. We made spaghetti and bruschetta. It was yummy and fun to cook. It is an adventure cooking for so many people when there is no running water and you have to boil all the water you use.

Then I tried to watch arrested development on dvd. Not my kind of show.

6-23-07

Today we went to the internet in the morning. It is such a blessing to get posts and emails from friends that are praying for me and thinking of me and supporting me. It means so much to me.

At 11ish we got in a matatoo (van) and headed to Awer (away) IDP camp. The history here is that the UPDF told the people of northern Uganda that they had X amount of days (maybe 2) to move into these camps a few years ago so that they could protect them from the LRA easier. Unfortunately, they were not able to protect them completely and there were many raids on the camps. Now that the conflict is over (at least for now) the people are still in these camps because they really don't have anything to go home to. For most of them their gardens, fields, and live stock are gone and even their homes are not in livable condition. As for the kids, the schools are not there. Most have been displaced closer to the camps. Invisible Children is really trying to implement programs and repairs to help these people get out of this situation. One way is the bracelet campaign. The bracelets are made in the camps by the people there to help them make some money. There are small financial assistance opportunities and initiatives to try to foster economic independence and growth.

On the way there I felt very strange. I have learned a term, conflict tourism, and I felt that I was doing that. I wanted to see the braclet makers and meet them and such but the fact that we had to go to this camp made me feel uneasy.

That is a constant tension here. What am I doing and what are my motivations? I do not want to become the oppressor and it is so hard because you are viewed that way because of your skin. Automatically you are right and an expert or here to display your power or dominance or spend all this money that you have in your pocket. It is a tension that I am aware of and try to be conscious of when making decisions and in interactions. It doesn't seem to be such an issue in the classroom because I think that my teacher really understands that I am here learning and to give ideas and to exchange but not to change or teach or implement but it was an issue in the camp. We went with our group of 6 teachers, megan and Christine (HEALS volunteers) and Valerie and her friend who works in Rwanda.

When we arrived we drove right up to the hut where the bracelet makers were. We sat with them for a few minutes and heard walter, the leader of the makers, speak about what they do and how they are chosen and also the extra programs he has implemented like the micro-loans and vision for the future. It is good to know that he is thinking ahead because he even said that the bracelet making will not be forever and hopefully they will not be in the camp too much longer. The bracelet makers are chosen. Many are widows or widowers, returnees, disabled, and child mothers. Even in that I think that there is tension. Obviously we did not witness it but I am sure that there is hostility towards the people who are chosen.

Then we were given "jobs" to do. It felt very contrived and sort of like a cover to come see the camp.

Phil and bryan pumped water and filled jerry cans and carried them to the huts. It seemed great but the act of carrying a woman's jerry can is not looked upon favorably. They are given a hard time for not carrying it themselves and especially if it is a man carrying it and a munu at that. They said that some people got upset when their jerry can wasn't getting filled. Amy informed us that sometimes there is a pecking order and not really about first come first served. She wasn't there with us. And the thing is is that walter gave us our jobs and set us there with directions that seem maybe to have been not what the people there want. It makes me think of that oppressor mentality that sometimes the oppressed take on the job and nature of their oppressors even to their own people.

Megan and seth sold items in the little market area. Pretty much they just sat there and talked with the people. But it seemed very strange because they just sat by these people who really didn't have any interest in sitting with them.

Catherine, margo, and I cleaned out this old room at the clinic and moved boxes of supplies into it. I mean I guess that was work that needed to be done but I definitely felt strange thinking about these people sitting there waiting all day to be seen by the few nurses and doctors while I come in in my name brand sneakers and capris and move some boxes like I am actually doing something. Its that tension of the desire to help and the idea that you may be doing more harm than good.

Much of the feelings these people have about whites comes from colonialism and oppression.

It is kind of odd writing this now because it is actually Monday the 25th. So I have had more time to process things and I am assuming my feelings will even change more as I am here longer. So this issue will come up again and different perspectives of it will arise.

So after we got back we just sort of hung out at the house for the afternoon, played scrabble and sort of regained our breath.

I took a shower, which is always an event, and just sat around thinking. I wasn't reflecting intentionally it was just one of those times that your brain keeps thinking and you really have no control over it.

One thing that came to my mind that is really hard to swallow is that there is a little part of this experience that is just for me. Its not about serving or giving or anything it is about me and what the Lord wants to teach me here. Being in an IDP camp seeing these things made me feel so selfish. Like I was there just to have the experience. Wrestling with that has been challenging.

6-22-07

Today was a good and busy day. Catherine and I had our Friday morning walk and it was a little rainy again. It is nice. It rains a good bit here, on average once a day or every other day. When the rain skips days, or 3 like earlier this week, it gets soo dry and dusty.

After we went to the internet we met the new teachers at Bora Bora for lunch. I love the sweet potatoes there. It is different than our sweet potatoes, these are white. One of the new teachers knows some people who are pushing to get orange sweet potatoes in this region because they are high in vitamin A and there are a lot of people in developing and 3 rd world countries who have diseases because they are vitamin A deficient. Interesting.

After lunch we took a few of the teachers around some of the outside market and to the internet café. It was strange because I am not an expert of the area by any means and I know that I wanted to know where some things were at first but the best way to learn the area is just to explore. I feel like it is totally safe during the day to walk around and explore. I like to go by myself or with one other person. I don't really like walking through town in a big group of munus because its either like a Disney parade or you can also encounter some hostility. Nothing major just looks and maybe a comment or two.

After that I walked around a bit and then met Patrick to plan. I am going to teach Mondays lesson pretty much alone and then the next lesson we are both doing investigative activities and we are going to compare them. That is the lesson that will be videoed so that should be interesting.

After that seth and I went to dance. It was fun. We did all the dances we have been doing plus the ax one. I cant remember the name but it is the mating dance and there is a part where the boy puts his arm on your shoulder and pulls you around. It was funny to watch the kids realize that they are going to have to do this with a munu. They were squirming and laughing, but they did it and it was fun.

As we were walking out we met up with Jamie, Catherine, and margo. The 5 of us went to this hill Jamie had found to watch the sunset. It was so nice. Unfortunately it was too cloudy to see the sunset but it was a good time none-the-less. The highlights were:

the fact that we had a bottle of wine we all drank out of and sprite and bagged vodka cocktails. That's right the vodka comes in bags.

I fell a little down the hill and busted up my knee pretty well.

We met a ton of the people that live around there and they seemed pretty nice.

We ran and danced and sang our way home in the dusk and then dark. It was amazing fun!

I don't know if I have written that I have instituted hugs here at the volunteer house. It is funny how physical touch is something that we all need. Things like that and just being here have made me realize what an amazing family I have at home. I am so blessed with brothers and sisters through my friends. My heart overflows when I start thinking about how well my Lord loves me through His children. I got an email about a prayer time that happened at my apartment. What!? The idea that people even think of me when I am not in the room makes my heart burst and then to plan to get together to pray for me while I am away, I don't have words to describe what that does to me. Thank you so much those of you that have prayed and posted and thought of me. Your love and support mean more to me than I can express.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

6-21-07

The second group has arrived. They seem to be pretty cool people. Laid back and diverse. Angie and I ran this morning. We called it an adventure run because we were lost half the time. It was nice though. And I went to the bathroom again. That is 3 days in a row! Thanks so much for the prayers!

I had to go to the acholi inn for a shower because we still don't have water and we were meeting the u.s. ambassador to Uganda. We all got dolled up and went to the bank of Uganda where his wife was facilitating a book talk with some of the IC scholarship students. IC has developed this scholarship/mentor program that is really great. It pays students school fees and provides mentors to them. Jolee was there as well. After the talk the ambassadors wife opened it up to general questions. The questions ranged from laws on pornography to racism in the u.s. the kids where really knowledgeable about world affairs. We missed the ambassadors speech where he apparently asked us to stand. We met him outside before he left and shook his hand and spoke to him briefly. He invited us to the 4 th of july celebration at the embassy in kampala. We will still be in Gulu but it was neat to get an invite. I am pretty sure any American in Uganda is invited. Jolee spoke after the discussion about how great it is to get the students talking and asking questions and encouraged them to keep doing that and keep working hard. She is really an amazing woman. I went up to her and let her know what a presence she had.



Jolly & Brenda

6-20-07

Teaching is going well. Patrick and I have developed this system of taking turns and using what we see works with each other to modify how we do things. Since we teach the same lesson three times we get chances to change our approach and such. It has been interesting to see how he does things and then how I do the same things but just a little differently and then how we modify ourselves in light of what we learn from each other. I have found it difficult to plan because he is so used to just using the book and there is not a lot of time to be able to do extra activities because its not about depth of knowledge as much as breadth.

Josh, who we call peanut butter, has sort of melded into our family unit along with Jamie. We all end up sitting together at night and talking and such. They are really great guys. Josh is so cute about his girlfriend back home and he will be joining the marines in the fall. Jamie is an intern and he might take a year long job here with IC when his internship is up. He is hilarious and such a sweet guy.

We take turns buying fruit and I cut it up (who would have thunk it) but last night I accidentally got our pineapple mixed up with the one Doreen got for our breakfast. She was not too happy this morning and thought that the staff would be mad. She was able to salvage a lot of the pineapple and no one said anything, I cant imagine them complaining. I felt awful and begged for forgiveness and she granted it. She is such a sweet lady I couldn't believe she could be mad at me for long, especially since the acholi culture is so forgiving.

Margo got really sick last night. She has had diarrhea for about 2 weeks but last night it turned into vomiting. We all felt so bad for her. Phil stayed up with her most of the night because we had morning class. We gave her simpro, which is for travelers sickness or something like that. She seemed to be doing a lot better today so hopefully she can get better soon. It is scary to be sick here but so many people are getting sick. I guess its just par for the course.

the way the acholi culture handles madness (insanity) is they just sort of let those people roam around. I don't know what they do if they are violent, I think they put them in hospitals but for the most part they just sort of give them leftover food and let them stay in the hospital when they want. There are 2 "mad" people that roam around Gulu High. One is a man and I have never really had any encounters with him. The other is a woman named francis. I have had multiple encounters with her. We have decided that she sort of seeks me out. I don't know why. I didn't realize what her deal was when I met her so maybe that is why. Well the other day she was right outside our house when I got home. I was getting off of a boda and all of the sudden she was there. I was just like ok see you later. Well she followed me in the gate. We are not allowed to have people inside the gate, especially people we cant trust. Granted she has never been violent but she is just not stable obviously. I was trying to get her to leave and trying to be loud so someone would hear me because I knew amy and Catherine were home. But they never came. Francis got a little agitated and started asking me for money and things. When I told her I couldn't give her anything and she couldn't come in she got more agitated. She started telling me that I shouldn't love money and that she had some. So she lifted up her skirt and pulled this white something out of her underwear and threw in on the ground in front of her sort of at me. I think she was saying it was money. Needless to say I was way unnerved and didn't know what to do so I just started walking in and she luckily left. I tried to talk to amy and Catherine and they didn't seem too upset. Later I found out that they didn't understand what I was talking about and they thought a kid had tried to follow me in. they were much more sympathetic later. I feel bad because I don't want to be scared of francis but I also don't want anything to happen that would be bad for me or her. All this to say today on my way home she was walking from the school and decided to walk with me. Luckily I had a paper i pretended to read and tried to walk quickly. As soon as a boda rode by I hopped on and was in the gate well before she had reached it. If I see her at school I can usually go into a classroom or the staff room and avoid her. If bryan is around he is really good about blocking her.

The second group of teachers arrive today. I am excited to meet them and to see how the dynamics of the house change.

Good day! (6-19-07)

After talking a bit with everyone and expressing my disconnected feeling I felt a lot better. Most people said that they had experienced that and that disconnected was the best way to describe it. Luckily we have all been able to get through it. I think there is just a lot to process being here and sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming.

This morning I got up early and ran with carry (a staff person) we didn't run very far but it was really nice. We have to go super early because the streets get crowded and they are really really unlevel. I got back and had breakfast and margo and I went to st. monica's where Kevin and emmay are staying and took showers. Catherine came after her class. It was absolutely amazing to be able to take a shower and they have fair water pressure. Of course it was cold but it was great and we didn't feel like we had to rush. Plus I went poo twice! Yay! I think it was the running and the coffee. Praise the Lord I have late classes Tuesdays and Thursdays so I am going to run those days and shower before school. I will probably try to run sat. too.

I cant remember if I have blogged about my dress and acholi name. if I have o well you get to hear it again-everyone who knows me is used to hearing the same story a few times. So I bought some fabric from a woman across from the internet place named Vicki. She gave me and margo acholi names. Margos is abeh (abay) which means beautiful and mine is lahker (lakay) which means from a royal family. Katie (the one who stayed in the IDP camp) has the same name and since I am older she owes me a chicken..hilarious! well I took the fabric back to her for her to make a dress. I took it back today for her to alter a bit more. I hope to pick it up maybe wed or Thursday.

Phil and I went to town after school and ran a few errands and we met up with margo and bryan and all decided to go to bora bora and have a drink together. It was a nice time to just sit and chat with each other. That's what we do at the house but it was nice to have a change of scenery.

Disconnected (6-18-07)

Today was a strange day. I felt disconnected all day from everything, the people, the town, the school, the teachers. We said goodbye to the roadies last night and the house is a lot quieter. I was really tired so after my first class I came home and took a nap and ate a banana. Patrick and I didn't get to plan for that lesson because I had the wrong cell phone number so I just sat and listened most the time. We planned for the rest of the week but I think next week I am going to try to get him to plan more detailed so that we can really work on teaching together and documenting what we do.

I haven't gone to the bathroom since sat. this stinks.

Gulu Baptist Church and father's day (6-17-07)

Bryan, Phil, and I went to gulu Baptist church. It is in peche which is about a 7 minute boda ride (and the boda goes super fast). Vincent ochang is the pastor there so it was neat to see him. He preached on a cheerful giver. It is really crazy to hear the people here talk about giving because they have such little but it is great that they see the benefit and the call to give as one that should be taken seriously. Throughout the service they referenced the recent break-ins they had experienced. Apparently a young man they had been helping decided to take money from the daycare. It was so unfortunate but they just prayed that he would have a change of heart.

During the day we all did our own thing pretty much. I went to town with john (a roadie) and Christine (a HEALS volunteer—joylee's afterschool kids program). We walked around the market and laughed a whole lot. John seems like a really neat guy and Christine is always so sweet.

That evening we took phil out to bamboo (a new really nice place) for dinner for father's day. Going to a restaurant in Gulu is a totally different experience than in the states. They don't really like to take individual orders they like one person to say 2 of these and 3 of these and such. The service is really really slow and formal. Even at the dives they will put your bottle of water on a tray or in a basket to carry it 3 steps to your table. The food comes out at different times and is sometimes wrong. Like at bamboo I was supposed to get banana fritters and potatoes according to the menu. Well I didn't get either and they just said "there was a mistake" o well.

When we got back to the house margo and I (with a little help from Jamie) had made a poster/card and we all chipped in and got a chocolate cake with Happy Father's Day Phil on it. He was really touched by it. The card was hilarious because instead of signing everyone's name margo and I wrote them in special ways to illustrate the person. We wrote catherine's in hieroglyphics because she is Egyptian, we wrote seth's on a torah because he is jewish, mine was in math symbols, hers was in a flower, bryan's was on a markee in lights because he is a super-star (everyone always asks "do you know bryan?" "where is bryan" and all the people we meet are so attracted to him) josh's (HEALS volunteer) was on a peanutbutter jar because he sits with us every night and eats peanutbutter and crackers and lastly Jamie wrote gasolina on a gas pump because that is how he woke phil up singing that song. Unfortunately the cake tasted like sand and the icing was as hard as a rock, but it was the thought that counts. We sat around and asked him dad/spouse questions and had a really great conversation. I know that he misses his family a lot but we are so thankful that he is here.

Intense discussion for a sat. (6-16-07)

We got up and had breakfast and amy and I went into town for a bit. When we got back Kevin (prof. from NYU who is here with us, wife emmay is a mid-wife working here for the month as well, he does prison theater—very interesting) and amy facilitated an activity where we used quotes from pedagogy of the oppressed to create human statues. It was very interesting and a great way to get conversation started.

The conversation was pretty intense. We really grappled with the reasons we are here and whether or not we are doing or can do any good. It made us all really think. One idea was struggling with- are we being oppressors by coming in and doing what we are doing. I think we came to a bit of a conclusion with the idea that we are just here to give another perspective and idea on how to do things but not here to make the teachers do it our way. There are things that we feel should change but it is not our place to make those changes happen. We can just introduce different ideas and empower the teachers with knowledge and a little encouragement that they are professionals and should be taken as such.

We went out to lunch and hung out in town for most of the rest of the day. Still no water.

No Friday class! (6-15-07)

Luckily I took a shower after dancing because we have no water. Apparently the line busted. We hope to get water soon but it doesn't look good.

Today was a great day! I didn't sleep well the night before last so last night I slept really well. I woke up and watched the sunrise with the fam (we are now referring to eachother as family because we so are) and then Catherine and I went for a "serious" walk and discussed life, love, and the Lord in the misty rain in the outskirts of Gulu. We have decided it will be our Friday tradition. Too bad I don't have many Fridays left.

We went to town for a bit and then bryan and I went to boma for lunch. It is one of the fancier places in gulu but I would say the smaller, cheaper places have better food.

The rest of the day was pretty much just hanging out and going to town and enjoying the rainy day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to school (6-15-07)

Catherine and I didn't have school today so we woke up and watched to sunrise (you cant really sleep because Doreen our amazing cook comes in to make breakfast) and then set out for a "serious" walk. We walked and talked and really had an amazing time together. It rained on us and was just breath taking. Then we went into town and did some shopping. I came back and bryan and I went to lunch. Then we walked around town and got people some gifts.

Yesterday after school I stayed and did traditional dance with the kids. It was so fun. I think I am going to try to stay next week too. They were hilarious and thought I was a hoot.

other hilariousness

I was constipated for a lot of days. Please pray that I get regular.

I held a flashlight while a guy got a hair cut. He is going to take me out on his motorcycle as thanks.

I fell over the picnic table at school on the first day. I have a huge bruise on the back of my knee…some things don't change (:

6-10-07

Time in Africa is a funny thing. People really do not concern themselves with time much. Even when starting classes the teachers don't really rush over. We usually start classes 10-20 minutes late. It has definitely been something I have had to get used to.

We went to st. jude's orphanage. It was a really incredible place. The people who work their pretty much just give their entire life over to the cause of their work. They were very proud to show us their new school building and church, it had a big mural of Jesus and the founder of the orphanage and outside was her grave. Then we got to play with the kids. We were talking to these kids and they thought it was hilarious to put bugs in my hands. They are these huge ants with white wings. It is what they were eating on the dvd. Apparently people roast them and salt them like popcorn.

6-9-07 My co-teacher

Yesterday we had a big dinner to meet everyone in our school. Vincent Ochang the DEO of Gulu was there (I met him at displace me in Atlanta). It was nice to have a time together to get started and meet.

My co-teacher's name is Patrick. He and I are a good fit I think. He is up to trying new things but still uses his judgment to rein me in and remind me that we have 70 boys 2 classes and 120 girls in another. We seem to be able to communicate fairly well. He is not acholi, he is from a different tribe in the north. It is neat because he is learning about the culture and language as I am. One of our students, victory, made me a small lwo dictionary and I think she is going to add to it. So sweet.

Patrick and I had lunch together after a tour of the high school. Things are so spread out. We went to a buffet place and ate with another munu (moonew) who was working with different ngo's. it was interesting to hear him talk about his experiences.

I walked around town by myself today. It was really nice to feel independent and really interact with the people.

feels like home (6-6-07 – 6-8-07 highlights)

Many of the things written here are captions for pictures that I will add later.

First of all michelle wins for the first call from the states. Michelle I am so sorry that I talked the whole time but I know you wanted to know all you could. Next time I promise I will let you talk and ask questions.

We went to lubiri secondary school on Tuesday and oberved classes like I said. Well I didn't say that we met jacob from the video. That's right the young man who spoke about his brother and cried and touched your heart. He is finishing school and getting ready for his exams.

Wed I woke up and took a shower/rain shower, notice the hole in the ceiling.

we left Kampala around 11 and took mutatoos to gulu. Mutatoos are like van taxis.

It took us 6 ½ hours! The road was soo bumpy and potholey. We saw baboons!

And we crossed over the nile.

Getting to the house finally was great. It was so great to unpack and feel a little more settled.

Today I got up and had breakfast (the cook doreen is the best cook in gulu!) and we had a language lesson with brenda. She taught us a lot of lwo and we have been practicing it with eachother and in the city.

Then we met with jolly (from the movie—opening bottle with teeth) and norman (her dad). They spoke to us about acholi culture and history. She told us little helpful things like don't show your knees to your belly, apparently men here are all about the thighs but breasts do nothing for them. Women will walk around topless but never show their mid section or thighs. She told us that if we go to someone's house we should expect to eat and sit on the floor unless told we can sit on a chair. Her dad told us about traditional dances and history of culture. They were both so elequent and proud of their heritage.

Then we went to diana's garden for lunch. It was a buffet and so good. It had cassava (potato), metooke (smashed plantain), green beans and carrots, beans, rice, g-nut sauce (crushed peanut), chabatti (flat bread stuff). We rode bodas to the restaurant. It's a dirt bike that you ride on the back of. We didn't ride on them in kampala because it is so crazy and packed and they have more accidents.

Then david, the liaison between us and the ugandan teachers, came and spoke to us about colonialization and education. It was very informative.

That discussion went way over so we decided to skip one of the sessions and go tour the IC office and venture into the town a bit. We rode bodas there but walked back. At one point some kids came up and held our hands for a little while. They were soo sweet. I am sad we didn't get any pics but we will be sure to next time. Me and catherine and margo split a pineapple and it was delicious! It is so different here because everything is soo fresh. The pineapple is lighter colored and not tough at all. It is so soft you can eat straight through the core.

Then we decided to go to the blue note, a bar in town. It is owned by jeoffery who works at IC in charge of the mentor program. It was kind of crazy to be in a bar with american music playing sometimes. It was fun though to unwind a bit and then MICHELLE CALLED (: we rode back on the bodas and I just looked up at the star filled sky and said "I cant believe I am on a dirk bike in africa!"

I love you and thank you so much for praying. I will try to keep informing you of things as they happen so stay tuned!

ps my address here is Plot 101 PO Box 1123 Gulu Uganda

Saturday, June 9, 2007

internet

so the internet here is so slow and hard to get to and such. so i wont be able to post many pictures til i get back to kampala maybe or even the states. be sure to check in though for updates and then the pictures later. i will try to insert a few now and then.
i have a blog already written but it didnt save like i thought it did. i will get it again and bring it to the cafe and post it soon. we have been so busy meeting people and learning about the culture and things but it has been so good. today i spent a long time with my teaching partner patrick. he seems great.
people here are so friendly. i am learning some of the language and people are so kind when you try to speak it to them. they are honored even. the kids here are way cuter than i had anticipated and yall know how cute i already thought they were. the little girls just want to hold you hand and walk with you and your heart melts.
i found out that i will be teaching S1 which is mostly the age that i teach in the states so i am so excited! i met a few of the students today. my classes are from 70 to 140 is the largest...all girls.
some highlights have been the people i am here with. they are so fun and we have a quote book that has already made me laugh reading it. i met jacob from the dvd. the one who cried grieving over his brother and jolly (bottle opener) and her dad. jolly is not portrayed justly in the dvd. she is an amazingly talented, educated, eloquent woman who is pationate about gulu and making it a better place and reserving the culture.
well my next post will be much better because i will write it before hand instead of in this very hot cramped internet cafe.
o o o the award for the first call in gulu goes to the amazing michelle! i love you!
forgive me that the next blog will repeat some of this (:

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

WAY UPDATE

I want to start by saying that I was so touched by reading the comments that have already been posted! I felt kind of bad that I didn’t blog more so I am going to try to do better. I can type up entries on word and then take my laptop to the internet café and copy and paste them. So I am going to recap the past few days and then have more organized blogs (:

Travel – sat june 2 2007 – mon june 4 2007
I didn’t sleep much last night. My mom came and stayed in my ransacked apartment. I spent my morning getting the mail key and last minute packing. My mom got panera for breakfast and people came over to pray and wish me well. I am soo thankful to everyone who came and prayed and called. It meant so much to me to have people I love show their support and love before I left. Mom and Michelle took me to the airport. My mom handled it well. I called people from the airport. I flew from Charlotte to Atlanta to JFK. From JFK I had to wait for my luggage for an hour then got caught behind some situation at the passport line and had to wait there forever. We decided we needed to go straight from there to security but since we were hungry we would stop quickly but just take it through. I asked the lady if I could take yogurt and she said I could. I was really excited about it and took a few bites before we got to security. Sadly they told me I couldn’t take it and I had no time to eat it so I had to throw it away. Sad. The plane was stikin amazing! They gave you socks, headphones, and all sorts of things. They give kids toys and things. The seats have touch screens in front of them that you can play games on against other passengers and just by yourself, watch movies, listen to the radio, listen to certain music, and watch a camera that is on the front of the plane and underneath the plane. We were all in awe and my team thought my comments were hilarious.
The flight was 13 hours long. They kept feeding us so much. The food was pretty good though so I didn’t mind. It is hard to sleep on a plane, luckily seth and bryan didn’t mind me leaning on them and yoga has made me more flexible (: The plane had tons of rows of 3 then 4 then 3 seats so 10 across. First class is crazy! They sit and lay in pods! They have personal fridges. 2 people Kevin and Emma, who are married, got bumped up to business class which is right under first class and they got champagne and ordered from a menu and everything.
We got to know each other pretty well because we were beside each other for so long. Here is a little brief about each of my teammates:
Amy is our leader. She is a Ph.D. candidate at NYU in Educational Theater. She works for Invisible Children and thought up and organized the teacher exchange. She knows the guys who made the dvd. She has a 5 year old named Hero (:
Kevin and Emma (Ammee) are married. Kevin is a professor at NYU and is over the 3 students from NYU who get credit for this trip. Emma is a midwife and will be working in a different part of the city. They will be staying in a different place too.
Phil is a Professor at Boise State University. He has 3 girls and is great. Super smart and always a step ahead.
Bryan is an english teacher and soccer coach from Mississippi who will be moving to Houston to teach and coach. He is a sweet guy.
Margo is my partner in crime already. We have been doing pretty much everything together and order the same things to eat all the time. She is one of the students from NYU and getting her masters in educational theater. She majored in Spanish and theater and reminds me a lot of Bethy. She has been all over the world.
Seth is also from NYU and in the same program. He is hilarious and it seems if something goes wrong it happens to him or me (:
Catherine is also in the program but she met us in Kampala. She was in Kenya visiting her boyfriend.

We spent sunday night in Dubai. It’s in the United Arab Emmerates. It is a city under construction. Apparently there is a man-made lake and island. We went to this huge mall with a ski slope in it! It was neat to ride around the city a bit and walk around the mall and stretch our legs. Our cab driver was a bit crazy. He was very tired on the way back and was falling asleep at the wheel. He took us the wrong way and then went out the in of the drive. We thought we were going to get in an accident. He got honked at a lot. It was nice to get a hot shower and sleep in a hotel to break up the trip. We wont be doing anything like that on the way back so it will be tough.


The 7 hour flight from dubai was fine. We stopped in Ethiopia but didn’t even deplane. The plane wasn’t as nice but it was still fun. Margo and I just played games and watched parent trap.
Arriving in Entebbe Uganda was really awesome. I kept thinking “o my gosh I am in Africa” I kept saying it too (: We walked off of the plane and through the visa line and waited on our luggage. We got carts and hauled it all to the outside where we found James our special hire who drove us to Kampala to backpackers hostile. I am so glad we got to drive. We saw the countryside and got to just feel the wind in our hair and smile because we were in AFRICA!



About 10 minutes after we arrived we were putting up our stuff and Kevin walks in and says "hey you guys want to see some monkeys?"

We had a short orientation and a traditional Ugandan dinner because Monday nights is Ugandan special night. We had buttermashed mattooke, grilled cassava, and veggies (sautéed veggies in a red sauce and spinach). It was absolutely delicious.
Sleeping under a net was an experience. I didn’t notice the net at night but I didn’t sleep too well because I kept waking up and people kept turning on the lights and such.
I woke up about 5 and saw Bryan getting up, apparently I thought he was Seth and asked accusingly if he was Seth, funny, then got up a few minutes later. I got Bryan’s flashlight from him because I didn’t pack one (bought one today don’t worry) and fished out my shower stuff and went to take a shower. The shower wasn’t hot but it wasn’t cold. We found out that we were just too early to get the hot water because they hadnt started the fire yet.
Margo, Bryan, and I were up early so we sat and read and talked and watched the sunrise! It was something to behold!

Then we went to Garden City in Kampala and got money (1655 shillings per $1). I got juice, flashlight, and garlic pills (sharing with Margo). We also got cell phones. To call me get an international phone card and dial 011 for the international call 256 for the country code and 712094483 for the number. We are 7 hours ahead and I will be able to talk after 5 most days so that’s after 12 east coast time.
Then we went to Pap Café for lunch and headed to Lubiri Secondary School to observe the 3rd best school in the country. It was amazing how little this school had for being the 3rd best. It really puts things into perspective. I was also surprised at how similar these kids were to mine. They were talkative and giggly when the teacher was teaching and seemed to be interested in similar things that my kids are.
Phil, Bryan, and I walked back to backpackers. We all just hung out and chilled for a bit. We had dinner and debriefed about the day and now we are just taking it easy til we go to bed. We are trying to stay up late so we will sleep past 5.
Tomorrow we ride to Gulu. it is going to be a LONG ride so please pray that we can make it and not get sick or have too many troubles. (:

Briefing again

Good morning everyone! It is about 10:40 here in Kampala Uganda! Last night I had a great dinner at the Backpackers hostile that we are staying at. It was Monday night Uganda night special. So we had authentic Ugandan food. Buttermashed banana (not the sweet kind), grilled cassava (sort of like potato) and veggies (carrots and onions in a tomato sauce and spinach). We had a great talk with sara the schools for schools cooridinator and dr. dan a professor from the united states who teaches in the universities in Uganda. I slept pretty well in my clothes under the mosquito net. I woke up around 5 and used Bryans flashlight to find my stuff to take a shower. It wasn’t freezing but it definitely wasn’t warm. Bryan, Margo, and I watched the sunrise and read and wrote in our journals. We saw monkeys again and had breakfast with Phil and Seth. Spanish Omelettes, toast, banana, and pineapple. It was delicious. We came into the city to exchange money and get last minute things. We are going to go to lunch in the city and then visit a high school. It is one of the top 3 in the country. We will stay tonight at the hostile and then head to gulu where we will be the rest of the time. I am ready to get there so we can unpack and such.
My team is great! We have a quote book and have decided that we are a family here in Uganda! I will write more about them. My plan is to write entries and then just take my laptop to gulu and send them so that I don’t have to pay while I type and think.
Thank you so much for your prayers! My traveling has been great! I will post about the plane and such later!
I will also post my cell phone number too! You can get an international calling card and call me for like 10 cents a minute! i think you should!

Monday, June 4, 2007

ARRIVED!!

i am here in kampala uganda til wed. we will go to the town tomorrow and get money and see the city. we have already seen monkeys! I AM IN AFRICA!!!!
my team is great!

Friday, June 1, 2007

i'm leavin on a jet plane

yay! i am all packed and ready to go! too bad i dont leave for another 14 hours or so (:
THANK YOU SOO MUCH! thats to all of you who have helped me out so much in preparation for this trip, moving, raising funds, praying, encouraging me, loving me, showing me Jesus. i am in awe of the love that surrounds me and pray to never take it for granted! God is soo good and He loves me so well! maybe i will get my mom to take a picture of me tomorrow with my bags and i will post it...you will have to come back to see (:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

so much going on

there a million things going on with packing and leaving and moving and the such. i am so thankful that God has surrounded me with tons of people that love Him and love me. He has also just given me this incredible peace beyond understanding. He is so good to me!
I am officially inviting everyone and anyone to come say goodbye to me at my new place sat. i dont know if it is a good idea to put specific directions to where i live on the internet. so if you dont know where i will be email me and i will give you directions. (:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

the big show

well i was going to wait to post about the show til i got some more pics but o well these will definitely do.
lets see the show was WAY better than i could have ever imagined. there were tons of people there and the music was out of this world fantastic!
good friends!

this is the way to rock out!

when she saw the innocent dvd and the guy did a back flip she said "he did gymnastics on africa" she also decided that she wanted to go with me and said she would ride in my luggage. (:

it is awesome to say that amy coccia played at my show but it is going to be soo much cooler to be able to say it when she makes it to the big-time! cause let me tell you she is on her way!

no i did not sing but i did say a little about what i am going to be doing. really just babbled as usual (: you know i couldnt go the whole night without saying somehting on the stage

courtney's song was a definite highlight of the night for me. she is one talented lady and she has been such a dear friend to me.

is that chann holding the mike?! my mom was WAY impressed! she said "you know him and he lives around here?
the show, the yard sales, the way people have supported me and continue to support me have just been amazing examples of how the body of Christ works. we are all part of the body and for one to function as He intended we all do our own little parts. some people sing, some people give, some people pray, some people go and teach in uganda. its all important and God gets the glory for all of it!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I am proud of you

these words have never touched me so much as they have recently. some very special people in my life have recently told me that they are proud of me. not for some great feat that i have accomplished but for going to africa and listening to what the Lord wants me to do and doing it. its kind of crazy because usually people tell you they are proud of you after you have done something. but in my case they are just proud that i am going. its crazy. they are proud that i am following what the Lord would have me do and they have all the faith that i will be effective and accomplish the work He has set before me. its awesome and exciting and very humbling. it encourages me and challenges me and fills my heart. my pastor talked about how God uses creation and scriptures to speak to us and He also uses the church. the people that He has called. i know that He is using the people around me to say that He is proud of me. as usual my post is just my stream of thought and typing that made me stop and take a deep breath. my heavenly Father is proud of me. speechless.

Friday, May 18, 2007

2 weeks and counting!

i cant believe i will be leaving in 2 weeks. its sort of not real to me i think.
the show was absolutely amazing and way greater than i could have imagined. i will post about it later when i have my pictures and thoughts together.

i got the meningitis vaccination today. i know some of you have been concerned about that (angie) (:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

IT IS TONIGHT

i cant wait til tonight!
ps dont go online to get tickets. they are $5 at the door and apparently the iTickets people are charging $1.50 extra. there will be plenty of tickets at the door. (:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

THE BIG SHOW!!



everyone should come and bring everyone they know! the talent in this show will blow your mind!
You can go to iTickets.com for advanced tickets or get them at the door.
Directions to the Connection:
Take Cherry Road through Rock Hill to Highway 5
Take a right onto Highway 5 and follow down towards Northwestern High School
The Connection will be on your right across from the high school behind Burger King. If you pass Rawlinson Road Middle School you have gone too far

I cant wait to see you there!

Monday, May 14, 2007

photo op

i was looking around on invisible children's website catching up on the latest news from uganda and the results from displace me. and low and behold there laura and i are on the internet!
go to http://www.invisiblechildren.com/displaceMe/
scroll down and click to see the photos, then click on atlanta and then to see the pics. we are the 3rd pic. we are laying on our sleeping bags beside eachother a little right and above center! we were really there!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Overwhelmed


I dont really know what to say. so i am going to use pictures to tell this story. the afternoon started with frank and i going around picking up donations from all over rock hill. then claire and sam drove from cola to meet up at lizzy's and drop off a car load of donations. david drove from charlotte with a car load. we all went to dinner and then started pricing. then lantz said (of course he thought of the money part) do you have change? so david and i went and picked up the baked yummies from jeniffer (she is an AMAZING baker) and stopped at bi-lo for ice cream and quarters (: luckily they helped us out. that along with all the change in lantz's car sufficed for the day. this is what it looked like when we started.

this was our best customer/worker/food provider

she is also rumored to have some connections with the serious yardsaling (yes thats a verb) community, people who know what they are looking for and dont waiste their time with niceties just yell from their car "got any dvds?"

no yard sale would be complete without those highlight items like this one

these shorts were also a hightlight.

this is how she really felt

this is how he felt

this is how loyla felt

there were many special guests but i think brooke wins for cutest shopper

at the end of the day we made almost $450 and since we had this left


we will be having yardsale 2 at the baxter community yardsale this sat. we will be right beside heather and my mom will be there so there is sure to be good times!
thanks so much to all those that helped out, donated, and shopped.

i am blessed!