Monday, October 24, 2011

Overnight Stay

Sometimes it seems like my life isn’t real. The last 24 hours felt that way. A Ugandan family that is friends with World Harvest agreed to host me as an overnight guest. On Saturday evening around 6 I went over to Aste and Buligi’s. Buligi is a pastor at a church out in Bundikakemba, he also milks our cows everyday, and brings us fresh milk twice a week. They have 7 children, 6 of them live at home and the 7th goes to Christ School. We all sat around the fire together and I watched as the girls made fish stew, rice, and cooked bananas. While dinner was cooking they asked me to teach them a song, so I taught them Lord I Lift Your Name On High, and they also taught me some Lubwisi songs. One of the girls, Anna, braided my hair, and then everyone decided that I looked like Shakira, which prompted us to sing This Time for Africa. After dinner we went inside their mud house and played a game by the light of a flashlight since they don’t have electricity. Once it was time for bed I went into a small room with all the girls. They gave me the nice mattress with the mosquito net and the three girls squeezed onto another small mattress.
Squeezed around the table to enjoy dinner.
Sunday morning we woke up and had fresh hot milk and bread for breakfast. We then proceeded to begin our hour-long trek to Bundikakemba for church, of course greeting everyone we passed along the way. As we walked down the narrow dirt path lined with cocoa and other tropical trees with the beautiful Rwenzori Mountains in the background I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for where I am and this family that treated me as a member of their family! Once we got to church I was informed that I would be part of the choir (those of you who have heard me sing are cracking up right now), would introduce myself to the congregation, and pray for all of the children during the service. It ended up being a wonderful experience. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and they seemed to appreciate my singing and dancing efforts. When I was called up to pray for the kids Buligi had all the children come to the front and they gathered all around me as I prayed over them. As we walked home Anna held my hand, and the other brothers and sisters held hands as well, which is very normal in Uganda.

Our beautiful walk to church.
Praying for the children.
Before I went to Aste and Buligi’s, I have to admit I was nervous about the experience. Not speaking the language, staying in a home that is so different from what I am used to, anticipating the long walk to Bundikakemba, as well as the long service all made me unsure of whether I could handle it. Not only did God sustain me, I was so humbled by how this family gave me the best of everything. They gave me the best food, the best bed, and the best seat in church. Their selflessness and warmth towards me was a wonderful reminder of how the love of Christ should look. I am thankful to have these new Ugandan friends and I’m looking forward to many visits with them in the future. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

From Bundibugyo

Friday I arrived in Bundibugyo and today is the first day we’ve had an internet connection. Actually, we got it working yesterday, but I was at a wedding and missed the hour-long window we have to get online. There have already been many firsts this week as I get to know my new home.

I went to my first Ugandan wedding (only the last 5 hours, as Anna and I missed the first 3 while we were at school. It was a joy to be able to attend, and the guests cheered and laughed when Anna and I danced our way through the gift giving line!)
I had my first Ugandan meal, (at the wedding) and I ate my beans, rice, cabbage, beef, and matoke without any utensils.
I attended my first Ugandan church service.
I made pasta from scratch (I’m not a cook, but I am learning, and have been blessed with roommates who are amazing cooks and are keeping me quite well fed.)
I have ventured into the market a couple times with my teammates (I have yet to venture there on my own though.)
I purchased 2 SIM cards for my cell phone and found one that has good reception in Bundi (email me if you would like my number.)

As I am typing this, I am sitting in my house waiting for a friend of Anna’s to come meet me. I’m hoping to hire her as my language helper. The Ugandans are warm friendly people and are so gracious to me as I can count on 2 hands the amount of Lubwisi words I speak. Just this morning as I was leaving school, some of our Ugandan neighbors gave me a Lubwisi lesson. I greeted them and responded to their greetings with my limited vocabulary…and then they kept talking, telling me how to respond. It was quite funny, but they were happy I was trying. I just have to laugh at myself, and the many, many, many things I don’t know how to do.

I’ve had to learn how to light the gas stove, but I still don’t know how to light the propane oven. I’ve learned to light the propane refrigerator that we use when the electricity is out (which has been more often than it’s been on.) When I arrived here I had this overwhelming feeling of not knowing how to do the most basic things. Incredibly though I feel so at peace here. Of course my team, and especially my roommates, have been a HUGE help. In a place where life is chaotic, stressful, hard, and the need is so great, there are many opportunities to freak out. Travis (my team leader) has granted me one freak out per day. Yesterday the huge millipede crawling across the room didn’t quite cause an all out freak out, just a, “What is THAT!?” and then my roommates proceeded to take care of the situation. I have killed many cockroaches and have grown fond of each and every lizard in my house that eat the many unwanted critters. I’ve received a handful of impali ant bites, and a fair share of noseeum and mosquito bites, and I’m very thankful for cortisone cream and my mosquito net. Today as I was walking a bright green snake darted across the path. I let out a small squeal, and just continued on my way. The feeling of peace I have, the ability to sleep well at night, and the lack of concern about the bugs and critters can only be attributed to God, and confirms to me that this is exactly where He wants me right now. Please pray that when things get chaotic I will be reminded of God’s faithfulness, care, and protection.

Every morning I am going with Anna to Rwenzori Mission School (RMS) to teach Lilli and Patton for the first hour of the day. For at least the first month my plan is to spend all day at RMS on Tuesday and Thursday and study Lubwisi and culture on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Eventually of course I’ll be at RMS full-time and we have 3 more students coming in December.

Thank you for praying for me. Please ask God to continue to give me a sense of peace and calm, and to trust in Him. As I become more immersed in life here I am sure there will be many stressors, but I am trusting that God is at work, He doesn’t need me to be here, and all my strength must come from Him. Please pray for me as I learn to speak Lubwisi., pray that I will make a good Ugandan friend, and pray for team unity and clear vision for our team and for what God wants us to do here in Bundibugyo.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

From Uganda!

It is so surreal to say this and actually be here, but I am in Uganda! Of course things didn't go as planned and I am here by myself. My team leaders, who were flying with me, had delayed and cancelled flights and were unable to meet me in London. I still spent the day touring London and was able to see all of the major sights. What a beautiful city with so much history! My flights went well and I arrived with ALL of my luggage this morning. My wonderful team had a driver pick me up at the airport and bring me to the guest house where we are scheduled to stay for a few days before driving to Bundibugyo. He brought me a cell phone and pulled up to a little shop on the way to the guesthouse where I went in to buy airtime.  I've spoken with all of my teammates in Uganda on the phone and have plans to meet with Pat tonight for dinner. Thank you for praying and please pray that the Johnsons (my team leaders) are able to arrive by tonight.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Packing and My Puppy

The last couple of days Ashley, Allison, Whitney, and I have been packing my life into suitcases. My goal was 3 bags, but I am ending up with 5! The 5th bag is my Christmas tree :) Thank goodness I had these girls to help. I had a meltdown today when things weren't working out weight wise. Without my friends I think I would have given up! After deciding on the 5th bag I feel a lot better :)
Before the packing began. Thankfully the girls were able to talk me into packing only about half of the clothes on the couch!
Making sure the bags are less than 50 pounds...with Addie's help of course :)
I just can't stand how much I'm gonna miss Addie. I HATE that I have to leave her :( I made this video of her to watch when I'm really missing her.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Family Time

This morning I was so blessed to be commissioned for the mission field at church. My BFF Allison is visiting from Orlando and she, my family, and I went to spend the day in Williamsburg. Of course we had to make a stop at Pierce's for some yummy BBQ!