Monday, July 27, 2009

Nile Rafting

July 15. We white-water rafted down the Nile.
Sound nice, eh?
We went to a rafting gig in Jinja early on Wednesday morning. There were many white people there from all over. We got some safety training before getting our life jackets and helmets. We boarded our bus and made it to the Nile.
The Nile is a beauty. The green over hanging trees, the sound of the rapids, the cool breeze, and wonderful company. Ahh! We have an incredible Creator.
We took off our shoes and carefully stepped down the rocks into our raft. In our raft was Alex our guide, missionaries Jake and Shauen, another short-termer Alec, and two friends we met that day. We started training with things like flipping out of the boat, pulling yourself into the boat, swimming, and what to do when you are churning under water. We got all trained and practiced on a class three rapid. Rapids are graded by classes 1 through 6.
Class 1 is like when you dip your finger in and it ripples. Oooh! Aahh!
Class 2 is like the wave pool at Six Flags.
Class 3 is like sunshine and candy, but sometimes you get burned.
Class 4 is like jumping out of a plane with a parachute.
Class 5 is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.
Class 6 is ... Google it.
So we made it. We flipped on a class 4, which wasn't too bad. Liz and I luckily grabbed hold of the boat and didn't get sucked under the water. The instructions Alex gave us before every rapid were to "GET DOWN and HOLD ONTO THE ROPE!" So that's what we did... or tried to. Other helpful tips were "Always hold onto your paddle. If you lose your paddle, you owe me 10 dollars for every time you lose it" and "WHEN our boat flips, hold on tight!" We then made it to the biggest rapid of the day, class 5. Alex told us, "This next wave... is called... death." Its real name is Silverback, which is pretty close to death. It was the longest rapid of the day. You will see it in the video below, as our raft goes vertical in the air. Liz and I both got ripped away from the boat and pulled under the water.
We were under for a looooonnnng time.
We made to the surface and a safety kyaker rescued us. When we looked back, we couldn't even see our raft and we had floated under the entire rapid. Luckily, a refugee raft was nearby and we climbed in.
They didn't flip.
Next was lunchtime! We leisurely rafted 6km for lunch through a croc pool (not as ominous as it sounds. We didn't see any) and enjoyed some fine Ugandan delicacies of pineapple and glucose biscuits. After lunchtime, we went down an 8 foot waterfall! We went through a couple smaller class 3 and 4s before making it to Itanda Falls, which we had to walk around. People go there to see it, not raft through it. Lastly, we had a choice.
The bad place
The other place.
The bad place is a class 6 rapid.
The other place is a convenient class 3.
Because our heads were full of water and nothing else, we chose to attempt the bad place. Yep. We were swallowed by the water. Liz just kept floating all the way to the end and got picked up by the same refugee boat from before. I made it out pretty fast and was pulled into another boat.
What a day.

Watch our video!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

We had the privilege to spend our Fourth of July with a lovely lady, Jane in Jinja with two of our other friends too.
It was delightful.
We started the day at the market, buying Irish potatoes, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, ground beef, cookies, coke, and the like. That took up 3 and a half hours. We then headed back to Jane's house to start cooking. We cooked for a total of 4 hours and it was totally worth it. We made hamburgers, french fries, fried vegetables, and chocolate dipped pineapple and cookies. When it got around 10:30, Jane came to inform us that she would be dressing up for our American party. Before we knew it, Jane was wearing her most beautiful Ugandan traditional dress and the man of the house, whom we called Uncle (still not sure what his name is), even wore a white robe. We all sat at the red, white, and blue decorated table and drank our cokes with a smile. It was fantastic.
They were really honored to celebrate the Independence of America with us. Uncle is very knowledgeable about the States and that made for good conversation. Altogether, it was a pleasant Fourth.
Happy Birthday America.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm out of creative titles. But hey, look at these pictures.

To the far left is Liz being swallowed by the girls in the van. We fit about 30 in there. Luckily, I was prompted to drive, so I got my own seat.

The Isangas found it and played it for us because we are from the West.

These are some of the kids near the town of Iganga.

Snapshots of friends.

Meet the Isangas
This is David.
He is always having fun and laughing. He translated our program for us and let us drive the van! He also bought us sweet bananas, which were oh so delicious.
And our friend Sam.
He is brilliant at the piano and he's just cool. Look at the picture.
Sam and David are two of the sons of Susan and Noah.

Mama! (or Susan)
She cooked us "mzungu" or white people food. She was the one who was always concerned for our health because we "ate so little." Ha.
This is Noah. Smiling. While suffering from malaria. Seriously.
The reason I say that is because it reveals his true character. He joked around nonstop and was always trying to make us feel at home. On the way back from the hospital with an IV in his arm, he demanded the van to be stopped so David could get us a snack on the side of the road. Really.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 29- almost half way through and loving it!

Hi, this is Liz. I'm writing on Christine's blog, obviously. So it's Tuesday night here and we are staying at Jake and Michelle Gillard's house. This place is awesome! They have a real shower with a tub and everything! And they gave us a computer to use! So we will be here for about 2 days and we'll have internet access the whole time. We are so excited to be staying here. We also had an amazing day yesterday. We went to see TRANSFORMERS at the one movie theater in all of Uganda. We had to take a taxi and walk about 2 miles to get there but it was totally worth it! We took our friend Josephine with us and it was her first time seeing a movie in a theater so that was a lot of fun. We bought 3 sodas, 2 cups of ice cream, and a kit kat for about $7.
Totally Awesome.
Then we bought a pizza for lunch and it was delicious. It was an awesome day.
So when we leave the Gillard's, we will head back to Jinja to do our program there for about 4 days I guess. Because on Wednesday of next week, we are going.................................................................
I am totally stoked. It's going to be insane and terrifying and amazing.
So I think that's all- I don't really know how to blog so whatever. I miss home but Uganda is amazing!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pass me some Posho!

It is day 22 or something or another, and we are in the town of Iganga! It is a pleasant town, smaller than Kampala. We are staying with the delightful family of the Isangas. They are a family of 5. Noah is the dad and insists on us calling him mzee. (moo-zay)... which means the old man. We spend a lot of time with his wife, who cooks for us and their two sons. Their names are David and Sam. Their family is doing really cool things for Uganda. About 10 years ago, the wife started an organization to help the girls in the community. Girls drop out of school here for a number of reasons including lack of funds to pay for school fees, pregnancy, loss of parents due to AIDS, and lack of motivation. So Mama (Noah's wife) started this organization where girls can come here and stay with the Isangas for a year, free of charge and learn practical skills for when they live on their own. They are taught things like cooking, sewing, and growing food. The girls are rediculously awesome. Their ages range from 17 to 22 and there are 31 living at the Isangas. One of the girls wants to be a caterer and another wants to be a nurse. The organization itself is beautiful in the way that it helps the girls. There is so much support from the Isangas and the other girls there. They are in need of many things though, like running water, funds for food and their teacher's salary, soccer balls, and basic healthcare education. Anyways, they are fine with what they have.

It is like camp. Everyday.
AHHH! Its radical.
We sing, we dance, we beat drums, we play soccer (which they own at), we watch Justin Timberlake music videos, we get water together, and we laugh.

Speaking of soccer... the girls at the Isangas, Liz, and I had a soccer game against other girls in Iganga. And they insisted that I play.
First of all, I don't play soccer.
Second of all, I am terrified of large crowds. And so I entered the field as one of the two mzungus (white people) on the premises and they all yelled MZUNGU! There were 300 watching. AHH! Despite that, we played a great game and almost won. :)

As far as Liz and my work here, we travel to one or two villages a day and have about 2 hours with a group of kids. The group of kids ranges from 30 kids to 250 kids. Its been challenging to speak really loud and remain animated so all the kids can see and hear us. Our day program starts with the good ol Hokey Pokey and introduction of high fives. We then sing some songs, talk about Jesus life, death, and resurrection, sin, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and trusting each other, bring out the puppets, and recite John 3:16. At the end, we are priveleged to listen to the songs they know about Jesus. We then play lots of games and have a grand time. The kids are very excited and very attentive.

I've been learning a lot about loving people. Ugandans do it so well here. Since we've been here, we've been treated like kings. They are very humble and value our presence so much. I do not have the creativity to express their love, except that it is the most beautiful picture of Christ's love for us that I've ever seen.
We've been to about 10 villages around the town of Isanga. We'll be here until Saturday, and then we must sadly say goodbye to our new friends.
Other exciting things...
I learned to drive on the left side of the road! And now I drive the van everywhere! The main road is easy as cake, but the village roads are a bit more adventurous. Driving is like playing a video game, only real life and real people. I love it.
We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Isangas today, and they like them! Great success!
We've been learning a bit of Lusoga, their language in this part of the country. Anytime we talk in Lusoga, they freak out and think it is hilarious.
The Isangas are deeply concerned for Liz and my health because we 'eat so little.' They've pulled us aside and asked if we were feeling okay on several occasions. This is what we eat for a typical dinner: a mango each, beans, posho (starchy tasteless bread), tomatoes, green peppers, greens (leaves from the ground), chipati (kind of like tortillas), maize, potatoes, sometimes chicken or beef, and not to mention tea. Last night we had lunch at 6:30pm and dinner at 9:30. We definitely need to eat more.

God has been very generous in His timing and plans for us here. I am excited to see what is in store for the next weeks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Greetings from Uganda!


That is watch in Lugandan and the first word I learned. I'm not even sure exactly if that is how to spell it!

We are currently at day 5 in Uganda! It is beautiful here. The people, the weather, the landscape! It has been about 75 degrees everyday this far! We are staying with Charles and Eva Bameka. Charles and Eva live here and Charles is the only Lutheran pastor in all of Uganda. Eva is opening up a beauty salon to do hair for weddings, and yesterday she blow dried by hair (: They are really nice and their home is really nice too. They have a living room, with a flatscreen television, a playstation for their nephew Larry, and two working toilets!! o ya.
Publish Post
Interesting fact: almost everyone here has a maid, both middle and upper class. It is considered rude for you to not have a maid, since you are not sharing your wealth with the poor. Our maid's name is Helen and she cooks, cleans, and washes our clothes for us. She doesn't know very much English and so that makes talking really fun! We are still getting orientated here.

We are officially past jet lag, thank God! Liz and I both woke up around 2am for a couple days.

The food is tasty. The most Ugandan-thing I've had to eat is a matoke (ma-toe-kay), which looks like a green banana but tastes like potatoes, with bean soup. Other than that, we've had spaghetti, pizza, ham and cheese sandwiches, omelettes, sprite, fanta, and tea. That's all simply because we are in the capital, Kampala, still.

We had our first village visit, and it was AWESOME. We're talking villages. We only went on Saturday night and stayed in a hotel and went back on Sunday for a church dedication.
The people in the villages are golden.
They are so respectful to white people. When we got there, one of the older women knelt down before us as a sign of respect towards us. She called us mother, which signifies that we are of higher status than she is. They also served us lunch and waited until we were done to begin. For the long 3-hour church service, they brought out the couch from the house for us to sit on. Seriously, they are so nice. After church, I met an old lady with a severely swollen arm that has been swollen for several months. I prayed with her and she was so thankful to have even a nursing student look at it. On the way out of the village, a woman stopped us and gave us a bag full of fresh mangoes.
These people also work really hard. When they say they have garden, most usually it is not the garden you and I think of. We went to one garden and it continued for another 5 acres. They had fresh matoke, bananas, pineapple, coffee beans, kasava, and much more... right in their back yard!

Life in Kampala is pretty busy. People are always traveling and the traffic is crazy. A three-lane road might fit 5 cars. Also, there is no breaking for pedestrians. You better run!

We are almost done with our training in Kampala and will go to our first village for ten days at the end of next week!! I am so excited and blessed to be at the hands of the people we are staying with! Their depiction of community is beautiful in every way.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere." 2 Corinthians 2:14