Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Times

I am determined to start journaling more often so that when I am ready to blog I can actually remember what happened at the beginning of the week. One thing I do remember from the first part of the week is the song “Bless her Beautiful Hide” from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I asked my roommate if she had ever seen the movie (for she was making cat noises that made me think of the movie, for any of you who have seen it), and we both started singing this song, which was funny by itself for we get repeated the chorus for about ten minutes. A few minutes later I walk outside and our mom is repeating what we had been singing, I almost wet myself, it was hilarious!
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

Jinja and more

Hello Everyone!
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 CafĂ© 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

Settling into Uganda

A lot of little things have happened in the past week so hopefully I will be able to remember them. My roommate and I were talking with our mom and our brother Alex the other night and we were talking of African traditional weddings. Alex is very excited to have a lot of sisters now (through the program) because the brothers of the bride each get a chicken at the wedding. They each get a live chicken and if he doesn’t get his, the wedding is called off until it arrivesJ It was hilarious and he had us rolling on the ground with his impersonation of receiving his chicken or not receiving it. Another night our mom brought out all of her traditional clothing and tried all of them on for us, and then Kristina and I were allowed to try them on as well. It was amazing and hilarious and our mom is going to take us to get a dress made soon. She is going to take us to the place where she gets her clothes made for she knows that they will give us a good price. Our mom also has a friend that makes the most amazing bags; she came over to visit the other day and the lady said I could come over and she would show me how to make them. I can’t waitJ
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

Rwanda and more

Hello Everyone,
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!