Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday we were also given all day with our families which was fantastic! We had to finish packing in the morning for they came by and picked up all of our luggage but the rest of the day was just spent with our family and having that time with them was an excellent reminder of the many reasons why I love them all so much. They are such an amazing family and I miss them with my entire being. Their love for each other and for Kristina and I was very apparent and it definately made it harder to leave. We left Saturday morning and walked to school a little teary-eyed, thank goodness I was able to hold myself together instead of bawling the entire way to school and being mocked by all the children and stared at by all the shopkeepers. Oh wait I think this happened anyway:) We proceeded to leave for Entebbe for a couple of days of debrief that ended up making me more nervous about coming home. I realized before Entebbe that reverse culture shock would be a problem but I hadn't realized that it takes some people up to a year to feel normal again. I was like 'Oh boy I don't like where this is headed.' We read e-mails from previous students, some of which were having a really rough time, and to be honest it made me not as excited to return home. But by the end of the couple of days I put many of my fears to rest because I was SO excited about all the movies that I would be able to watch on the plane rides:) Our last day was spent on the beach of Lake Victoria, it was such an amazing to just be with the people I love in a non-academic setting and not in a circle telling of our fears (p.s. I had been sick most of debrief so between sessions and after dinner I had to go right to bed and wasn't able to spend time with people then, unfortunately). The group of people that I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad with were fantastic and I miss them a great deal already. They are such incredible people and we formed a closeknit family between all of our trips together and being crammed in the IMME quarters for long periods of time:)
You are all probably hoping that I cut this off soon and I will. I promise. The flights home were long but successful in their mission. I did watch several movies and even though the food screwed me up a little it didn't taste too bad. I finally arrived home the 16th and have been trying to stay warm ever since! I am not really enjoying this weather and I am hoping that my body adjusts swiftly. I am happy to be home, and though I have reached some low points of just not wanting to be here and desiring to be home in Uganda I really am glad to see family and friends. I can't wait to see everyone but for those of you I won't be able to see before I go back to school I hope you all have a wonderful time with family and friends over the holiday season!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
There are so many things that I will be bringing back with me though other than luggage full of souvenirs. Seeing how community exists in every facet of Christianity is incredible to me, it is such an integrated part, or at least it should be, but even though I love the idea it still scares me a little bit. I am not extraverted, I have more of a solitary one-on-one personality and the community concept confuses me into wandering if my introverted personality is okay. What is the line between healthy community and personal time/space? This is something that I am working on; it is a work in progress. Though I still have many questions, more than I came to the country with actually, I have started on a new quest of trying to figure out how God truly wants me to be living my life. For the way I live my life expresses what I believe the purpose of my life is. If I believe that the purpose of my life is to serve Christ then I need to be living out that purpose now. Coming to Uganda was supposed to help me in the process of figuring out where God wants me once I graduate, but it hasn’t had the effect I was expecting. I have felt called to Africa from a young age working with children, but my first semester of college I was introduced to human trafficking and the devastating effects that it is having all over the world. I have felt a passion for human trafficking victims since, but I have been unsure how it is to affect me long term, for prominent regions that are affected are in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. This semester I was hoping for a pull in one direction or another but since being here I can definitely see myself living here full term, but since being here I can definitely see myself in Eastern Europe too. One thing that sticks out to me though is the fact that after all the missionaries we have seen and all that they do here, I still have a desire to work with human trafficking victims. I had always wanted to work with younger children so when I began to focus on the teen to early twenties range of victims I thought it was a little strange, but since being here I am more than convinced that God is calling me to work with the age group of human trafficking victims.
I am still not sure where God wants me, but the knowledge that I have gained in different areas more than makes up for this. I have time. Something I am trying to instill in me…I don’t have to figure it out now because God knows and that is truly all that matters. Since being here I have also had a strange desire to get a master’s degree right after college, which I had never really gave serious thought to before. I am thinking maybe Women’s Studies; since I want to work with women I thought this might be reasonable and beneficial. At this point I do not really know where God is leading me and I am beginning to be okay with that. I am starting to realize that I don’t need to have it all figured out, life is an adventure so why plan it all out, it takes away the surprise and the thrill. I am still a planner, I don’t think that will change, but just knowing that God and the Christian community around me are here for me, to support and comfort me in all I do and all that happens, is very comforting. This semester has given me an abundance of opportunities (such as living with an incredible family, going to Rwanda and Kapchorwa, weekend trips, etc.) that have made me grow in many areas and that will continue to shape me throughout my life.
I will probably write again again once I am home to let everyone know how the rest of the time went such as the farewell dinner, debrief, and the travel home. I will see you all soon!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I have officially two weeks before I land in Cincinnati for Christmas break. I get back December 16 for those who are wondering. These past few weeks have been extremely busy with papers and preparing ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for coming home. Its getting to the awkward in between stage where I don’t really want to be thinking about home because my time here is getting extremely short but it’s very hard not to because of writing final papers, classes ending, making everything will fit in my suitcase, and thinking about the people and food that I have missed. This coming weekend is our last weekend with my family which is ridiculously sad, for next weekend I will be in Entebbe (where the airport is) for debrief. It’s going to be hard to leave but I also know it will be hard to come home as well, for culture shock will hit me hard I have a feeling, but at the same time I really am looking forward to seeing everyone! Though it has been busy and stressful there have a few fun and exciting things that have happened. Two weekends ago we had our last missionary weekend trips, we went to Rakai which is in southern Uganda. We stayed at Kibaale Community Center that is run by five Canadians. The community center was incredible and incorporated everything that I have dreamed of if called to Africa. It was a primary and secondary school and also had a vocational training department; they had about 800 students all with Ugandan students. The center also had a medical center that is the second busiest in their region, though still small in actual size. The incredible part about the program is that it is a two year position for the Canadians and the program is sustainable with our without the missionaries there. The Ugandans are in such leading positions that they are fully able to manage the program. The Canadians are there mainly to keep up connections between the center and their supporters who are mainly located in Canada, actually they are mainly located at a private school in Canada, where they obtain most of their support. It is crazy! Apparently the private school is extremely wealthy and it is presented almost as a requirement to support the center when you join the school, though officially it isn’t a requirement. The center was amazing though plus it was our most relaxing weekend where we were able to just hang out with our group in a non-academic setting; and we ate amazing food!! Oh my word, the food was incredible, we had salad with dressing!! And pasta and chicken with curry over rice, yum, it was wonderful!
For Thanksgiving we had an American Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean, corn, rolls, and desert! It was all the ex-pats who live on campus and all of the USP students. It was wonderful! All of the students were in charge of the deserts and we formed groups of 3 or 4 and were given a kitchen in an ex-pat’s house for about an hour and a half for each group. We had a beautiful time, for my group made chocolate chip cookies and risked the raw eggs and ate plenty of cookie dough, but though it was good it wasn’t the same, so mom I am going to need supplies to make cookies when I get home. While we made the cookies we also watched Mulan which I found for $1.25, I was so excited when I found it at the little store were we bought our ingredients. It’s a pirated copy but it works wonderfully! After our dinner that night (where we all ate an abundance of food, especially desert) we watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas projected on the side of the house, it was exciting and such an amazing time! At our school we have community worship every Tuesday and Thursday that is led by different group on campus; this past Tuesday was our group's opportunity to lead community worship. It actually went much better than I expected it to, we had two girls that organized everything and did a wonderful job of bringing it all together, that and the fact that I got to stand in the back of the group while we led worship for a couple hundred people. Oh what good times:)This past week was HIV/AIDS week and last weekend I went on a fieldtrip to TASO (The AIDS support organization) which is an incredible organization supporting hundreds of thousands of people infecting with the disease. It was wonderful to hear of their program and how affective they have been in Uganda; one of their leading programs is their drama group who gave as a demonstration of what they would do when they go to villages. The experience of hearing from them sing and give testimonies was wonderful and opened up a branch of HIV/AIDS that was not very familiar to me.
My birthday was this Monday and it started off like a normal day, my roommate and I slept in, did homework in bed, and went to school a little late because hey it was my birthday! I worked on papers and then I got an amazing package that was full of birthday cards from wonderful friends at Milligan, that it actually made it to me was exciting and that it actually came on my birthday was incredible! Then in our IMME class that afternoon they all sang to me and had gotten me brownies that were shared and greatly enjoyed by all! It was a wonderful birthday! Thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes that were left for me on facebook, it was wonderful to hear from so many people and it filled my heart with joyJ
I must now continue with all of my papers but I love you all and will see you crazy soon!
Friday, November 20, 2009
The past two Sundays I have been going to this wonderful couple who have been teaching me how to sew bags that they make for a living. My mama introduced Kristina and I to the couple shortly after coming and I have expressed a great interest in learning how to make some of their bags. They live about five minutes away and told me that I could come anytime to learn from them. We have been gone a lot of weekends but the past two Sundays I have been able to go over and spend four to five hours with them sewing. It has been amazing and I have loved every minute of it. They are such an incredible couple whom I have grown to love. They are in their early thirties and have wonderful senses of humor and a heart for hospitality. The wife, Jemima, is handicapped because her legs are not fully developed. She sits on the floor of their little work area and she is able to completely function and maneuver around, and up until Wednesday, November 18th, she had been pregnant, but still doing everything within her reach. She is wonderful and amazing; beautiful inside and out, with such a loving heart. The husband, Robert, is the one who helps me sew in the ways that she cannot, and he has been wonderful and has a wonderful sense of humor. They are both great, great together, and great with others, especially this little girl that lives right next to them. My time with them has been wonderful and I was able to make a bag for my mama that she absolutely loved.
The other nice thing about the past two Sundays is that we have actually been able to go to church with our family and to not have to stand up and introduce ourselves. It is a wonderful feeling such being a part of the congregation and the pastor asked us to come over and have dinner with his family. Kristina and I went last week and met his three adorable little girls who were precious! Spending time with them in their home was like stepping into a little America. The home was very nice and western (American) in appearance and the food, though still Ugandan, tasted amazing with new flavors that we had not yet experienced, and tender meat!! It was a wonderful time, especially just being able to spend time with a family who spoke very good English and could understand us.
Last weekend Kristina, I, and a group of other IMME students went to the capital, Kampala, and went to a craft market where we were able to finish all of our shopping, which was wonderful, and to eat at New York Kitchen, which is American food! It was nice to get out and spend time with people in our group under a non-academic setting, and eating American food was definitely a perk! While in Kampala we also went to the grocery store because this week we made dinner for our family. It was amazing to have a roommate in this process because if I wouldn’t have had a roommate I am pretty sure I would have been something extremely easy and generic. But instead we made French toast with vanilla, cinnamon, powered sugar, and honey; scrambled eggs with onions, peppers, and cheese (which was crazy expensive); mashed potatoes with garlic, onions, and peppers; and no-bake cookies. It went incredible well, much better than either of us were expecting, which was great! They had no idea that we could make something so flavorful. The no-bake cookies were a definite hit which was exciting. Kristina and I definitely enjoyed that night, it all tasted wonderful, especially the French toast which was like heaven on a fork. We had to feed ten people which made it a little tricky when trying to figure how much ingredients to buy (such as eleven pounds of potatoes) but it went wonderful and we had enough food with a little left over.
We have a program on campus called Save the Mothers which was started by a doctor from Canada who lives over here with her husband and children. A group of us went to hear a presentation from her this week and it was fascinating hearing what is happening in Uganda and what the program does. The amount of child and mother deaths due to complications and delays in childbirth is horrifically outstanding. This concept was enlightening and very interesting and it was unfortunately brought home this week when I personally saw how truthful and relevant the information was. Jamima who I spoke of before as being pregnant went into labor on Tuesday and because of her handicap (they are thought of as not a complete woman) she was not given the immediate attention that she needed. They did not do surgery until Wednesday night and it was stillborn by that time. The doctors were not telling Robert anything that was going on (men are not allowed in the rooms) besides that she was singing gospel hymns in the hospital room. It took him awhile to figure out what had happened to his own child. The simple fact that it could have been prevented and knowing that if it had happened in the States the doctor would no longer be working at the hospital… The funeral was yesterday, November 19th, though Jamima was still in the hospital. It was a rainy gloomy graveside funeral that consisted of a tiny coffin with a cross carved into the top of it and a small but deep hole in the ground. It was devastating. The pastor spoke as well as Robert and his brother. It was truly awful, but being able to go with Kristina helped support them and make it seem real to us. We also went with another USE student, she in one who lives on campus, but during the semester they go and live with families for two weeks around school. This was her family. The praiseworthy part is that Jamima is fine and should be released from the hospital in a few more days. It is a true miracle that she will be fine and we are all praying for her and Robert both, and I hope that you will join us, for they are in desperate need of them.
I am sorry to end on this sad note and I encourage you all to realize what we take for granted in the states, such as there are hardly any childbirth complications; such a natural process of life that we have no need to fear, but that drastically affects women and families here every day.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Last week was rural homestays, which means that all of the Uganda Studies Program studies (all of the white people) went and stayed either in the plains or in the mountains of central Uganda. The IMME program (which is the one I am part of) went to the beautiful mountains of Kapchorwa (it is close to the Kenyan border). I was paired with another IMME student and we stayed with an incredible family on the side of the mountain. It was one of the most incredibly beautiful places I have ever seen and probably will ever see. When we first arrived it was already getting dark outside, we were shown around, but the scenery was completely lost on us. We met our wonderful parents, Freddie and Anne, and their children: Imma, Richard, Caleb, Elijah, and Abbey. They were very welcoming and such beautiful people. Our first morning we woke up early because we had to go to the toilet ridiculously bad, we walked out there and realized that the hole we had to squat over was approximately HALF of the size that Holly, my roommate, and I had grown accustomed. In Mukono I am very proud if I don’t pee outside the hole, here I am proud if I pee inside the hole, it is pretty comical, it is a shuffle of the feet trying to pee in something so small…oh man. We then explored our front and back yard which was crazy gorgeous; we went around picking flowers to press, their flowers and blooms on trees are amazing. Our breakfast consisted of two slices of bread, two eggs, half a piece of corn, and a banana, and then two cups of milk tea. It was delicious and extremely filling. We then went o pick coffee. They grow on what looks like a fruit tree and the coffee looks like cranberries hanging from the tree. It was exciting times, for how much America ns consume coffee it is incredible that we have no idea what is truly looks like. We went home and took bathes which was pretty much a joke, it was more like a sponge bath. The bathhouse had huge gaps in the side, which I later learned to cover up with my massive towel, but at this point it was just like scrub here, scrub there, done! We ate lunch and then went to a wedding! It was my first since being here. It was a long service and we got there late, yet somehow we were right on time. I have no idea how that worked out. African and their time… the walk to the church was magnificent and incredible and unbelievable. It looked surreal and yet pictures cannot do it justice which is sad but I still attempted. The wedding was very sweet though long. I felt like the marriage counseling was mixed in with the service, in was funny, the minister was giving many lessons to the new couple, who were beautiful. There was much dancing by this certain group and about three songs that lasted about thirty minutes each. After the service we had a delicious soda and Holly and I split a plate of food even though they kept telling us we could each have our own plate, we just kept repeating “this is plenty thank you!!” we headed home after the rain stopped, it had started during the reception time, and trudged home through the ridiculous mud that we had to try and repeatedly wipe off of our shoes. It was funny and definitely an adventure. Oh on the way there I saw flowers that reminded me of home and while gazing intently at the flowers I wiped out on loose dirt. I have two small holes in the skirt now and it scraped up my knee pretty badly, I had to try and hold the skirt off my knee because it was bleeding through and the skirt kept sticking to my knee. Good time. When we got home we had the chance to relax with our family which was wonderful.
One of the best parts of the week was just being to able to help out in different ways and to be productive in ways other than school. Throughout the week we got to shuck maize, a lot of maize, help with the meals, wash dishes help with the coffee and other things. They weren’t major things but it was exciting to actually learn how they do these various projects. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I learned how to make a complete African dinner which I am excited to do when I get home. It was fantastic and I could have stayed there until December, though I would have missed my Mukono family.
After church on Sunday our brothers took us on a small hike to caves near their house. The hike was humorous and challenging because we were both in skirts haha. We probably flashed our poor brothers a couple of times, but the hike there was incredibly beautiful. We got there and the cave was amazing. It started to rain right after we arrived; the landscape was magnificent looking out from the cave with the sheet of rain covering all of it and flowing off of the edge of the cave. We stayed until the rain stopped and then hiked back which was also fun; it was like rock climbing in a skirt, funny was not something I recommend. I felt I was in the movie Ever After the whole week. Everything was simply beautiful and in the mornings the mountain fog would cover everything in a beautiful haze.
I must now contribute a little writing to our girl who works for our family. She is beautiful, graceful, extremely capable and a beast. She is wonderful in so many way words cannot describe how amazing she is. When preparing meals she would sit in front of the fire moving boiling pots and the hot embers with her HANDS (the same with our mama) it was crazy and insane. She once picked up a boiling pot of water and carefully poured the whole pot into a thermal flask for tea. Crazy!! The woman there were extremely hard working and made of steel.
So one evening our mama comes into the kitchen with a live chicken, immediately I start thinking “oh boy I don’t like where this is going!”
Mama: “have you ever killed a chicken?
Me: Um no actually I haven’t
Mama: You want to kill
Me: NOOOOOOOOOOOO (while making a gruesome face and covering my eyes as if it was already happening before me.)
Holly: Come on Rachel Lets go watch
Me: What?! I don’t think so, I’m good
Holly: Come on
Me: Oh um oh fine
We go into our backyard and our mama has the chicken pinned down on the ground plucking the feathers from around the neck. The she cuts the neck in half and lets all the blood drain out onto the ground and waits for the chicken to stop struggling. She then cuts the neck off the rest of the way. We go back into the kitchen and she dips it in hot water and then plucks the rest of the feather out. At this point I am thinking the process is over and then she starts cutting it up and pointing out all of the insides. I am just like “oh wow look at that, eesh.” The poor little guy was delicious though.
We also went to a market during the middle of the week which was great even though it rained and we had to duck for cover a few times. I wiped out again but this time it was down a muddy slope in front of a lot of people at the mill grindery. My skirt went up in the back and so did all of the mud. The owner showed me out back where he had a hose so I could clean myself off. Oh man what good times. He was very nice and so I proceeded to hose myself off, hiking up my skirt to get as much mud as possible not really caring who was watching me. When we finally got home that night after walking in the rain for about an hour carrying a five pound bag of corn flour I had to take another bathe to get the rest of the mud where the hose couldn’t exactly go if you get my point. It is such an amazing day and quite the experience, haha especially because it was dark when we finally got back home and Holly had to hold the flashlight over the bathhouse so that I could see while I bathed.
Leaving was a little depressing because it was such an amazing place with beauty and beautiful people. But after leaving our homestays we went to Sipi Falls which is three waterfalls on the mountain. We stayed at Crows Nest that overlooked all of the waterfalls. It was phenomenal. We were there all day on Saturday and we were given three hiking options: short hike, flexible hike, and epic hike. I definitely did the epic hike and I loved all of it. All of it that is except the last thirty minutes, of a six hour hike, that was straight uphill. I just kept thinking “Rachel, you are not in shape, what the heck were you thinking when you decided to take an epic with athletes!!” But other than that it was all amazingly beautiful and I would go back immediately if given the chance!!!
Monday, October 19, 2009
For Independence Day Kristina and I along with our Mom went to Kampala to what reminded me of a massive state fair. There were craft booths everywhere and I was able to get a lot of shopping done which was wonderful. The highlight of the day was the opportunity to eat real, delicious icecream that actually tasted like icecream, it was amazing!!
In Luweero we had the opportunity to hear Father Gerrie speak of his work and his role of a priest. The most influential thing that he spoke of in relation to poverty was that it needed to be a combined force between the Catholics and Anglicans. He spoke on the issue several times throughout the night, but one phrase that he mentioned was wonderful: “for the challenges we have, we must unite and not worry about the trivial things – we are all Christians – we have too great a challenge to get caught up in doctrine.” I loved this quote and the unity expressed for a common goal that God has called all of us to accomplish. I hadn’t expected this relationship between the two churches but it was later reaffirmed that night we spoke with the Bishop of Luweero. It gave me a new and much better realization of Catholicism. Both churches realize the extreme need of helping the poor, and instead of working separately and combating each other, they have chosen to work together in order to be more effective. I found this a little startling, for I had previously heard that the relationship between the two wasn’t great, and wonderful. It has changed my knowledge and perspective on the topic. I love the emphasis that we are all Christians and by letting doctrine interfere in so great a problem it hinders not the church people but the poor.
Not everything seems as cute and sweet and exciting. The children have become very annoying, the ones that we pass everyday and follow, and stare, and point, and giggle, you just want to say “yes, I realize that I am white, thank you for reminding me, now shut up and stop staring.” I know it sounds harsh and ridiculous but it can’t be helped, I’m convinced of it. The communal aspect which I have fallen in love with can also be hard to bear. I have been sick the past few days and have been continually asked how I am feeling by my family as if I could drastically change conditions in a span of a few minutes. All I wanted to do was sleep, which was impossible do to the fact that I was sweating in bed and because Mama can in about three times in a couple hour period telling me to wake up and have tea, by the end of which I just wanted to be like “I don’t want any more *@#$ tea!” but I didn’t so don’t worry. But at the same time I couldn’t be upset directly at her because I knew that it was all done with the best of intentions. Then we have a ‘nephew’, Chachi (at least this is what I call him) who randomly cries for no apparent reason other than because he wants to, and he does it all the time. He starts off with a whimper/ soft sob and rapidly progresses into body shaking/ gagging/ throwing up ridiculousness. It is crazy and you almost just want to give him something to cry about as awful as that sounds. I am ashamed of myself…maybe…a little. Yet as awful and funny as these sound I absolutely love it here. It is hard to enjoy everything though because exhaustion comes so easily, it is easy not to look at life as a wonderful gift and getting everything out of every minute. The books my mom sent me have been wonderful God-sends. They allow me time alone to just escape to another world giving me rest and relaxation from this one that is always imposing and always drastically aware of me. Another thing that I am enjoying is my classes, I am being stretched and pushed in new and exciting ways and even though they are challenging I still love them. We have been viewing God, and church, and how we live our lives with new perspectives that have been extremely enlightening. It is through these classes that I learned that the bitterness is just a phase that should pass, just maybe not before I go home, but hopefully:) This past weekend, though most of the time was spent resting and reading from being sick and homework, we had a guy come over that sold fabric which we brought and are having dresses made as I write this. I wasn’t able to walk down to the seamstress so I sent measurements so it should be interesting to see what comes back, but I am very excited! They are supposed to be done this coming weekend but we won’t be here. On Friday we leave for rural homestays and will be gone till the next Sunday. Today I received an incredible package from Aunt Debbie and my cutest cousins, Molly and Maggie. It was amazing and EVERYBODY is enjoying the oreos that were sent!! Everything had post it notes on it with little notes and it was wonderful, I love you all!! I almost cried because I had notes from Molly and Maggie as well and it was wonderful to see their handwriting and pictures drawn for me. It was great! I hope everyone is doing wonderful and enjoying the fall weather that I am missing. I miss you all and love hearing from everyone, you all have been wonderful!!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday morning we left from a hotel in Mukono at 7:30 in the morning (the people from Adrift Adventures came to pick us up) and took the ride to Jinja. We had first heard that half would bungee jump on Saturday and then white water raft then on Sunday the rest would bungee jump. Because of the rain that we had on Saturday we couldn’t jump so we waited for a little bit and then left for white water rafting around 10:30. My raft asked for the extreme experience so we had a lot of training in the raft before we went down any rapids. We had to practice jumping out, finding air pockets when trapped under the raft, getting back into the raft, and then getting down and holding on to the raft. The rapids were fours and fives and amazing! The weather was perfect and cloudy with a little drizzle in the beginning; I still got burnt but not nearly as bad as if it would have been sunny. I got trapped under the raft once and couldn’t find the air pockets for a while but I survived and the second half was incredible. The only part that wasn’t exciting was the extremely long periods of stagnant water that we had to paddle through in order to get to the next rapids. There are pictures and a video which will be widely looked at and watched when I get home because I probably won’t be able to load them unto facebook. We rafted all day, starting at around 10:30 then breaking for lunch on an island (which was delicious) and then rafting until about 5:30. It was incredibly amazing even though I am incredible sore at the moment and is very painful to bath, go to the bathroom, and get into bed, as well as practically every other normal body movement. It was definitely a little frightening at some point when all you can see are clouds and white foam and you are about to go through it, and seeing rapids about to engulf your entire boat wondering if you will actually stay in the boat or where you will end up if you come out. It was crazy and amazing! We got back and they fed us and then loading unto waiting buses that drove us back to Jinja. We rafted 22 miles. When we got back we lounged around resting and waiting for the video that they showed at about 11:00 which we bought and will be shown when I get back.
On Sunday we woke up and some had breakfast. No, I did not because I did not want to see it again, I didn’t know when I would be jumping. They split us up, fifteen going first and then a thirty minute break and then the rest of us. I opted for the second shift to give me a chance to watch fifteen before I went. It actually made me much calmer and relaxed after watching everyone else go. While watching them one of my friends commented that she thought she would rather go with a partner and starting asking around and I was like heck yes I will go with you! I was then much more reassured that I would be going with someone for I wasn’t sure how I would jump if someone wasn’t going to be there to help me the entire way. At this point I am completely excited and pumped and ready to go!! After the break the rest of us climbed up to the platform to wait for our turn. Julie and I were third in line and extremely ready to jump. It came our turn and we walked up to the platform at the end to get strapped in. We sat in separate seats to begin with and were individually strapped in; a towl was wrapped around our ankles and then a strap was tied and wrapped and twisted and then another strap was wrapped around that the carabineers were attached to. We then sat next to each other and they hooked our ankles together with the bungee cords. He then gave us instructions and what to do and how to do it. We both stood up with our ankles next to each other and put our arms around each other’s backs. We then had to shuffle to the edge of the platform/cliff. And we had to keep shuffling together until all of our toes were hanging over the edge. Once at the edge we held on to a bar above our heads. He instructed us not to look but it didn’t really matter because I felt like I was going to throw up anyway. I started panicking and was trying to remind myself to breathe and yet I was completely excited! He had us take down our arms which I did not want to do, we told me that he still had us but I still questioned him for reassurance to make sure, because I felt that when I let go I would just tip forward. We let go and then Julie and I had to face each other and embrace in a massive bear hug which was okay for me. They then counted 5-4-3-2-1-BUNGEE and at this point we had to start leaning out over the cliff and he would push us the rest of the way. The feelings going through you are indescribable and incomprehensible. You are excited but at the same time you are like WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING THIS IS INSANE AND I WANT TO CHANGE MY MIND NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Being in the air you have this amazing adrenaline rush come over you mixing with a huge warning signal that something is wrong! You can just feel yourself FALLING 145 FEET!! We both started streaming in terror the second we left the platform. Screams of terror soon changed to screams of pure excitement once we realized that we were alive and then once we realized we were having the time of our live we started laughing hysterically!! We squeezed each other the entire time and screamed into each other’s face and made sure the other was still alive and had an INCREDIBLE TIME!! The feeling is crazy and once over the puking period it is so exciting. I didn’t see all of it, the pictures that I remember seeing are random and splotchy, either from my eyes being clenched in fright or being buried in Julie, I just remember seeing Julie’s hair and the sky and platform above me and then the water and the men in boats as we started to slow down. They then lowered us into the boats who then rafted us to shore. It was an incredible experience and I am so excited that I did it!!
We got back to the lodge area, which overlooked the Nile and was beautiful, and I ate lunch which was delicious and treated myself to the dessert bar! Then we all rested and read and took pictures and then headed back to Mukono around 4:00 and then went home! Please comment because I had no comments on the last post and I definitely lost the competition with my friend!
Monday, September 28, 2009
The weather here has been better than expected! It gets hot during the day but in the mornings and evenings it cools off, and about every other day we have storms during the day that brings a cool front for a little while. The storms here are wonderful and beautiful except in the middle of the night when it starts pounding on the tin roof and you wake up thinking you are being murdered. Other than that they are wonderful!
This weekend was wonderful, especially Friday. Friday I only have one class and I was done at 9:20 in the morning and even though I worked on homework throughout the day there were wonderful break. It was the birthday of one of the IMME students and we all pitched in and ordered enchilada casseroles and brownies to celebrate, it was great. Later that afternoon, the IMME students had been invited to the vice chancellors house where we met the different missionaries on campus and they all brought dessert, it was fantastic, holy cow!! Everybody piled up the cookies and brownies etc. Then that night I and four other IMME students had our missionary dinner (everybody signs up under different missionaries who have offered to have us for dinner). The missionaries live in Kampala and he is the president/principal of the Bible college there; their house was incredible and the food delicious. They have good meat loaf type things, rice, and fresh tomato and cucumber salad. We all ate our weight in the salad for we aren’t really fed fresh vegetable, it was wonderful! They also have a nice movie library, so we are planning on letting them know that we can babysit for them anytime the need a date nightJ
This weekend was the introduction of our new church building (which is beautiful) and our mom does catering for the church. Saturday we went with her to help all of the church women prepare food. Kristina and I cut up onions, garlic, green beans, and potatoes. It was fun to actually be able to help and to be around all the women and girls from the church. The gruesome part of the experience was the chickens. There were a lot running around the yard when we arrived and only around two or three by the time we left. They would snatch them up, take them in the shed and then come out and immediately pluck, peel, gut, and whatever else they were doing to them. They would pile them up in large buckets with water and the flies would just fly around and land on them. When we were peeling potatoes Kristina had to sit right by the one of the buckets of water and chicken, and occasionally they would through a chicken in it and the water would splash Kristina, she was practically sitting in my lap trying to get away from it. It was nasty and funny at the same time. The live chickens would also go around picking at the leftover pieces of the dead chickens –nasty cannibal chickens! We helped from around nine to early afternoon and then we came home and had lunch and then napped for about three hours :) it was beautiful for we had the house to ourselves (which has yet to happen) and the silence of just being able to lay there was incredibly relaxing and very much needed. We rested and did school work for about the rest of the day. Sunday was the day of the introduction; we arrived in the sanctuary at 9:15 and didn’t leave until after 3:00! Thought the ceremony was beautiful and wonderful to participate in I thought I was going to jump out the window that we were right beside by the middle. It was so long, good, but long! It was just Kristina and I, for our family was outside helping prepare the meal, along with about a thousand Ugandans we didn’t know, exciting stuff right there. It was fun being a part of such a monumental event for them, but just a little long. The food afterwards was yummy though and we felt very proud that we had helped, in a very small way, prepare it. We got home around 3:45 and we lay down again :) and then worked on some more homework. I had taken my laptop home and one of the little boys was engrossed with it, as well as the girl that helps out at our house, she was just using Word and she was fascinated. It was fun to introduce them to something so common for me. The little boy loved playing with iTunes:)
My classes have been going well, they definitely keep me busy, but I am trying to get to a point where it doesn’t consume me at home. Hopefully I will get to this point soon! I am really enjoying most of my classes, they are causing me to think deeper and in vastly new ways which is difficult and exciting all at the same time! All of the classes seem to merge and pull from each other which is nice but also frustrating when you can’t remember what you read for what class. I am loving the new ideas and concepts that they are introducing to all of us and I am excited to see where I grow in these areas!
Thank you all for your prayers and I love hearing from you all even though I may not always respond:)
Monday, September 21, 2009
Last week, even though I am having trouble remembering what happened, was great. I had a real chicken salad sandwich at Brooke’s house (leader of IMME); I had brownies ordered from a lady that cooks American food for the ex-pats here, and wonderful cookies that my Mommy sent me in a care package. It was great! Of course everything here is shared amongst the other 21 IMME students to I didn’t have as much as it sounds Hahaha the food from last week is all I can remember but if something else comes to me I will add it on later.
This past week my roommate and I, along with one of our brothers, went to visit a USE student living with a couple that had previously visited our home stay. They live very close to us and what we knew of them convinced us that they would be open for a visit. Their “daughter” had not arrived home yet, but we were welcomed into their store/home with big smiles, welcoming hearts, and kind words expressed in enthusiasm over our visit. They cleared off the nicest seats and bade us to sit. My conception of the visit before we arrived had been that it would last roughly ten minutes, we would chat, then say hello to their “daughter,” then leave. This was not to be. The couple that we visited was humor-filled with extreme kindest and an inviting spirit. The conversation flowed easily with much laughter. Even speaking in Luganda with our brother was conversational for their expressions and movements told much of what they said. Once the other student arrived I remember thinking that now would be a polite time to leave so that we don’t overstay our welcome. Well once she arrived the party started; the tea was brought in, bread was bought and served sandwich-style with butter in-between, peanuts in bowls, and oranges and tangerines. The conversation continued in an amazing sequence, the company was enlightening and hilarious, and the food was deliciously simple. Their spirit of hospitality is unique to me, not that I do not know hospitable people, but their level of invitation was incredible.
This weekend the IMME students went to Jinja, which happens to be the source of the Nile, yes the Nile. I got to take a boat ride on Lake Victoria and the beginning of the Nile. It was incredible. We arrived at the resort on Friday night and heard from missionaries who work in the prisons. Their work sounded incredible and requires much patience and dedication. That night we ate wonderful food with HEINZ ketchup, holy cow it tasted ridiculously delicious!! Saturday we heard from a missionary and ate at the Source Café which is a branch of the mission. The missionary then led us on a devotional tour of Jinja. We started at a golf course the overlooks Lake Victoria and the beginning of the Nile, we then went to what was called the ‘Beverly Hills of Jinja’ back in the day before Idi Amin, and is now run down mansions. Then we went to a place called ting-ting. It is a slum work area where hundreds of men pound metal trying to shape it into something else that is worth something/anything. We then went to Jinja’s hospital where we wouldn’t send our pets for help. The nurses here don’t feed, bathe, or provide medicine. Relatives must come stay with the patients in order for them to be fed, bathed, and they must buy the medicine. It was devastating seeing patients just lying in beds, some with no relatives, some who haven’t even seen a doctor and won’t for a couple of weeks. The tour was great, the missionary also gave us questions that we need to be asking ourselves and seeking during our time here and beyond.
When we got back we went on the boat ride. I loved it, it was absolutely beautiful, with birds covering the trees and sky. We could see the tide changes when switching between Lake Victoria and the Nile, there are little whirl pools around the islands that signify the beginning of the Nile. It was fabulous. I still can’t believe I have actually seen the Nile. It is unfathomable, as is much of what happens here. That night we went to a restaurant and I had pizza! It wasn’t great, but it was satisfying and exciting! We got back Sunday night (last night) and went home; our mom missed us greatly, for she gets lonely without us. So she was excited to see us as was everyone else. Going away for the weekend is like going away for weeks, they welcome you back the same way, it is always exciting to come home! I am going to try and put pictures on facebook of Jinja soon, I hope you have all enjoyed the pictures of Rwanda and of my home and family.
Kristina and I have finally talked to our mom about helping out around the house, I don’t know if it helped drastically, but it has definitely helped a little bit. Our brother Alex says that we just need to disobey if we want to help out more, and I think he might be right, but our talk has helped so we will see it takes us. Our family is doing wonderful and our brothers are great. Samuel, the youngest at 18, and I have very interesting conversations that usually end up with both of us frustrated over the other, but last night we talked for about thirty minutes before he started driving me crazy and vise versa. Alex (middle brother, 21) is wonderful and very helpful, but then he always says that I hate him which is completely false, it’s a fun time had by all The oldest brother (24) isn’t around as much for he is at work in Kampala and other areas that I am not of, but he is also great. I love you all and can’t wait to hear from you all!!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The riots that many of you have heard about started on Thursday. My roommate and I hadn’t heard the news before we walked home (come to find out the other students were driven home and some had to stay on campus). We heard the news when we got home but didn’t realize the extent of the situation until that night when our brother got home. He had gone into town to pick up a book and had to hide behind a barricade and then ran home. We could hear the gunshots throughout the night but my roommate and I are not directly in the town and thus haven’t even seen the aftermath and the riots let alone the riots themselves, unlike some of the other IMME students. We are again allowed to walk into town so the problems must be much better. Thank you all for your prayers, they were much appreciated!
I am starting my second week of classes and so far they are going very well and are enjoyable, but we will see what my opinions are in a couple of more weeks. I feel as though I am still a little lost in some of my classes and not really knowing what is going on, but there are a lot of other people in the same boat which is comforting. My literature class is my favorite class, the teacher reminds me of YodaJ but he is great. It was a little embarrassing though, for I feel as though my name is the only name that the teacher knows; then he had the entire class clap for me after answering a question correctly. I was trying to slink down in my seatJ
This was our first weekend at home with our families and it was wonderful to relax and sleep-in. We were able to take naps after our lunches and to read and get some homework done, even though not nearly what I needed to get done. On Saturday our mom took us to this little factory (that you don’t even realize is there until you walk through this little opening) close to our house that makes placemats, bags, and shoes. It was amazing and cheap, for the prices were wholesale which is fantastic. We weren’t able to go into the factory part because the lady that walks you around wasn’t there, but hopefully we will go back soon to look around! Sunday was church and even though it wasn’t as amazing as the church in Rwanda it was still wonderful. Their concept of time was enlightening: the service starts at eight, we got there a few minutes late and we were the only ones there. The service at about 8:30 and by 9:00 it was starting to fill up, it was great! Sunday afternoon we had a massive storm that resembled a hurricane. It was incredible! Kristina and I wanted to go outside and play in the rain but our brothers wouldn’t let us for fear that we would get sick. They do not like rain. We were hanging out in their room and they were literally holding us back from going outside. It was beautiful!
They keep feeding us a ton of food and I am getting a little better at eating since I try not to eat lunch other than a piece of fruitJ They aren’t feeding us as much for breakfast, which is amazing, so at least it is not as painful to walk to school, but they are still feeding us a lot for dinner and for lunch over the weekend. At least the food is good and I am not tired of it yet even though I do dream of food from home.
I don’t remember if I mentioned this before but our oldest brother is a doctor. Over the weekend there was an emergency and a little boy came to our house; he had fractured both arms. His parents had taken him to a doctor in town but hadn’t set it right (or something to that effect) and so the parents brought the boy to our house and our brother re-casted both of his arms on our couch, it was crazy. They went the next day to Kampala (the capital) to have it officially x-rayed and casted in a hospital, but it was incredible to see him do it on the couch…crazy crazy. (Danielle, it was Margaret’s son).
I am basically a pro at squatting…the goal is to just approach it as a gamble, hit or miss you still win, and so far I have yet to miss. Bathing is going very well even though I sometimes think of a shower. But our water is also hot; they heat it up for us twice a day. Yes, we bath twice a day, or we are supposed to, I usually wash my body at night and then my hair in the morning. Our mom won’t show us how to wash our clothes, for she does then for her other children why not us, we also have a house maid that does the laundry so at least it is not just our mom doing all of it. Kristina and I finally convinced her to show us how to iron and she gave me a 90% and Kristina a 50%. It was very funny. I have to take these compliments where I can get them for every other time they are calling me fat or manlyJ At least I don’t have a low self-esteem, or I didn’t when I came anyway! Haha they don’t mean it as insults they are just very honest, even though my mom did say that I have a small waist, just broad shoulders and large hipsJ Please excuse any misspellings, I don’t have time to spell-check. I love you all very much and would love any comments (I have a contest with a friend who never gets any comments on his blog).
*Ooh it Is night and I just showed my family pictures of my families and they were like “ooh Rachel you are the biggest in your family…and your dad is very tall…and your older sister is very portable…and your sisters are very beautiful…and your mom is so small,” it’s like ‘sheesh Rachel what happened to you’ and I am just like ‘yep that’s me.’ Ooh the abuse that I go throughJ so funny, getting a little old, but still funny how open they are!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
We got back from Rwanda on Sunday night and started class monday (yesterday) morning. It has been a whirlwind and most of the time I no one knows what is going on but everything is going wonderfully. Rwanda was an incredible experience that I hope will stay with me throughout my life. It was a very eye-opening and humbling opportunity that has left a lot of us with more questions than answers. The first two nights we stayed in Gahini, which is the starting point for the East African Revival. We stayed on a beautiful lake and went to church on Sunday. The church experience was incredible and I absolutely loved it! There was one solid drum that played through the worship and at least three different choirs. The mission group split into different teams and went to different churches, each team was responsible for two-three songs, a testimony, and a short sermon. The sermon for out group ended up being the actual sermon which was fun and we sang a swahili song (that was taught to us by one of the Ugandan students) and an English song. It was three hours long and amazing, I loved it!! While in Gahini we head a lecture from a pastor and a testimony from a woman who lived through the revival in the 1930's. They were both wonderful and it was interesting to hear this before traveling to Kigali and hearing of the Rwandan genocide that starting springing up in 1959. We were in Kigali for four night and heard many lectures, went to the Genocide Memorial, and the Nyamata church. It was devastating and horrendous. The Nyamata church held app. 10000 Tutsi and all but seven were slaughtered over a three day period. Our guide was one of the seven survivors. He was 23 years old and told his story at the end of the tour, he only survived because his older brother covered him in blood and hid him under dead bodies. It was unbelievable. The church contained mass graves that you could go down into and see all of the caskets of known bodies and then caskest full of bones from the unknown. The memorial started with genocides that have plagued the world since the beginning and then leads into the childrens ward. This hit everyone the hardest, it has poster size pictures of children and lists their favorite food and game, their best friend (which was usually a sibling), what they wanted to be when they grew up, and how they were killed. It was devastating. And then you go into the rest of the genocide- detailing deaths, survivors, support, a lot of lack in support, crimes that were committed etc. Then we watched a documentary untitled The Ghosts of Rwanda. It was a very hard day for all of us. Where we stayed in Kigali, it was part of the guest houses by a church. The church was mentioned in the documentary and it was where a couple unarmed UN soldiers were actually able to save those in the church, which was incredible. We were given a free afternoon to walk around the city which was fun and we my little group of four people went to the church of Hotel Rwanda. We just walked into the lobby and went up the elevator and started looking around and we were able to see the swimming pool that the people had to drink out of. Our last two nights were spent back in Uganda on an island in a lake. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We spent the day debriefing and finally being able to relax. It was amazing. Classes started yesterday and so far I have had three of fives classes and they are great. My history teacher is very jovial and laughs over everything and my literature teacher reminds me of yoda its going to be great:) It is wonderful to be back home! I am loving my family very much even though they keep feeding me too much. I will start to slow down eating and my mom will say "Rachel, what are you doing, you need to eat more, you are cheating me" I look into her eyes and relunctently hand her my plate to refill. Last nights dinner was amazing though, it was a pumkin that is stuffed with potatoes, corn, peas etc. then wrapped in bananas leaves and steamed. Its was fantastic! Our brother Alex is teaching my roommate and I Lugandan (their language) which is fun and interesting:) and out brother Samual is telling us folklore of night dancers and creation stories, that is when we are not arguing, which happens most of the time. His other brothers call him 'calamity'. He is something else:) Our sister left for boarding school down the road yesterday which is sad because I didn't even know she was leaving. Though we have only been gone a short time the entire group already knows what we want to eat as soon as we get home, it is very funny to sit around and tell each what foods we are dreaming of:) the food is good here it is usually just the same which is why the dreaming. I hope everyone is doing wonderful and I would love to read your comments!