Monday, June 28, 2010

a day in the life

Our morning starts with waking up to the sounds of chickens, Ugandan music, or the musings of our mice friends who reside with us. Anna usually (as in always) gets up before me and reads and does other more productive things. We draw our water if we didn't the night before and fill our water bottle with purified water. Our water becomes pure by the magic of Waterguard; a delightful chlorine burst of flavor brightens anyone's day. We brush our teeth, next to the deep pit that has yet to become a latrine. We sweep our room and prepare ourselves. We make the walk to the toilet, which isn't far, but since we are living with 30+ people, the walk seems longer as you are greeted by several people.
Anna takes a lot more showers than I do, which is more hygienically and culturally correct than I. The well water is chilly on days it rains, making for a cold shower. We might wash our clothes. Lately, the girls have given us the liberty of washing our own clothes. It's hard to gain independence here because the people are so generous to us in really unbelievable ways and the stereotype of white people is that we are incapable of doing anything for ourselves. So, any day we get to wash our own clothes is pretty exciting, for the convenience of the people we are around and also the sake of our pride. We then start the days' activities which is quite varied. We might be teaching, making beads, drawing blood, watching the construction of the latrine (Anna has done an amazing job planning and communicating with the people who are building it. Ask her about it.), watching the World Cup, making guacamole or talking about stewardship. We try to play football in the evenings with the girls, which is entertaining. Getting off the compound is rare for the girls and it brings life and energy and excitement to play together.
We usually just hang out with whoever is around at this point in the evening, watch the World Cup, and eat our delicious supper. We head to our room, wash the tan off of our feet, listen to some true music, make our last stop at the toilet, and call it a night.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"It's okay. I'm a man. Men were meant to suffer."

Yo Yo Yo!
We started building a composting latrine on
Monday. I wish I could accurately articulate all of my feelings and conversations to give you a vivid picture of the past few days. Man alive.

We’ve made significant progress but with much laboring in communication. I think the pictures should give you a good idea of the rest. We had to tear down existing walls and pour a new floor. Now we’re working on the platform that one would stand on. Lord willing, we’ll finish on time and it will stay standing.

Our time with the girls has flown by
and we’ve had some wicked awesome opportunities to just hang out. They are brilliant, in my mind. Our interactions and activities have provided for some sweet conversation about life and God and other important things in life like boys, breast-feeding and baking cakes.
We’ve been privileged to make a cake and last night, we made guacamole with the girls.

We have Bible study twice a week and class roughly twice a week. So far, we’ve talked about basic healthcare and hygiene, stewardship, HIV/AIDS, and sexual education.
We’ve played soccer twice and the girls are really full of energy. We started showing them their videos from their new friends in the U.S. and it has been a joy to see their reactions. Next week they’ll get their shirts (which we’re really anxious to pass out so that we can wear them too). Upcoming events with the girls include a girls’ night of massages and movies, a Talent Show, more soccer, classes about First Aid, more Bible study, an American independence celebration of s’mores, and who knows what else.

The other random picture is of us at Noah's mother's house. She is beautiful, lovely, and very hospitable.

Today there was HIV/AIDS testing at WAACHA for the community and the girls. It was free. Christine and I both got tested. Good news: we’re negative. PTL.

Friday, June 18, 2010

anna lied in the last title of the blog postings. it's not hot here.

June 15th came and left so quickly. It was my 21st birthday and I feel honored to have spent it with such fine people for yet another year. A wish of mine is that our worlds were not so far apart. That I wouldn’t have to use the word “there” or “far” to describe the location of my friends here. Someday.
The day started with listening to some David Crowder in the morning. We had our first teaching session with the girls (which Anna mentioned in the last post). The girls are bright and very attentive to what we have to say. They are very teachable and eager to learn. They got their packets from girls in the U.S, and their eyes were glued to the words written on the pages from so far away. We had some tea with David and Arnold and headed to town on a boda boda to the hotel for some internet. Along the way, I received a phone call from a dear friend back home. Twas so good and ridiculous. We interneted for a while and then went shopping. David had given Anna some money to buy me “something nice.” What does that mean? I don’t know. We found this really cool green jacket but it had a hole in the pocket, so we kept searching until we found a seamstress on the side of the road. She was working diligently on a dress and had some fabric. Anna and David bought me this “nice” something. We headed back to the Isangas for the evening adventures. Along the way, our boda driver was stopped for a police check. A man wearing an army uniform walked our way and exchanged some Lusoga words with our driver. This policeman was putting forward his best flirtatious skills and was not shy to ask how he can get a girlfriend from America and if I could be his girlfriend. I politely rejected his valiant attempt to woe my heart and we waved him and rifle goodbye.
Anna, being very sneaky in her ways, had told the family about my birthday and they were determined to bake a cake for me. Side note: Ugandans don’t celebrate birthdays traditionally but the culture is being influenced by Western practices. Anyways, our next project was to bake a cake. This was quite the ordeal. We lacked the following to make our cake: a recipe, baking soda, oil, vanilla, a measuring cup, real butter, a cake pan, icing, pot holders, and an oven. After an hour and a half and with the help of the catering students and the construction of a make-shift oven, we had a chocolate cake. The semi-finished product was disappointing because we placed buttered paper (make-shift wax paper) around the pan and that had burnt directly onto the cake, which left the cake looking like a piece of coal. Anna shaved off the burnt toppings and we placed some candles on our burnt-gooey-butter-brownie cake. You can see this occasion below. It is mama, Sam, David, and Noah. Anna was kind to take the picture.
The night ended with Avatar. Try explaining that here, especially with no sound for the first hour.
Thanks for the birthday wishes and for being a part of it, even by just reading this. ‘Twas good.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sometimes it's hot in Uganda

Announcement: It’s Christine’s birthday today, Heck yes! We’ll be celebrating with cake, Mirinda grape soda, and Avatar.

This picture is from last week but I thought it would be good for you see some faces. On the left is Noah, then Arnold, and then David.

The past few days have been full of sweet times and good conversation. We talked for a long time with Noah and David about the details of how we will spend our time here. I’m super stoked about working towards sustainable practices here. We’ll get to spend intentional time with the girls every day talking about specific things (mostly healthy living practices, life skills, and spiritual and community growth).

This morning Christine walked through some basic health practices and David translated for her. It went well but the exciting part came next… we matched up each girl here with a friend from Jewell and it was so fun to watch them read their letters and look at pictures. Thank so much to each one of you that wrote a letter. I’m confident that God will bless both you and each of these girls through your friendship. The next challenge that we have in front of us is to figure out how to make bread without an oven and then teach the girls. Lord help me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

pictures. yep.

refer to these pictures backwards in reference to the previous post. does that make sense? anna doesn't think so. she would say "reverse order." you get it? great.

Anna the vegetarian eats meat in Uganda

So here we are. That's us in the airport in Dubai. It’s a few days into our trip and our what could be considered “normal” routine is about to set it. We’ve been busy visiting villages with the girls and enjoying the company of the Isangas. We’ve been learning Lusoga (the language in this region) with the help of our friends Miriam, Namboso, and Oliver.
We’ve danced.
We’ve sang.
We’ve helped with the long process of preparing dinner.
We’ve been honored with having the most hilarious conversations with David and Noah.
All of this and more prove to me that God is alive and working.
It is so easy to see the brokenness of the world here. Young women are hurt by the lack of affordable and quality education and obviously there are deeper issues here besides education. The girls here are very honest about their struggle and that makes God so real. Truth is evident through their stories, their tears, and their laughter It is made clear to me more than ever that we (everyone) are in need of something much bigger than us to save us from ourselves.

This is Anna on her first boda-boda ride. She did well. We went super fast as we both squeezed on this tiny motorcycle and zoomed through the streets of Kampala, dodging taxis, buses, and other bodas. It was wild. We were really close to the other cars… my legs were warmed by the warmth other vehicles.

Next is the infamous Skippy peanut butter that was saved from the coolest lady in the St. Louis airport.

Lastly, you will Anna next to Noah and our friend Miriam. Today we made a tippy tap, a handwashing-station for outside the family bathroom. We also made one with the girls for their bathroom. I say “we,” which really means our friends did most of the work. It was a delight and we now have clean hands. WAHOO!

If you want to call us, our Ugandan phone number is +256 0788 0659 24
The following website offers really cheap rates to call us. We would be delighted to talk to you. But remember, we are 8 hours before you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Nitty Gritty

After 4 plane rides, 25ish hours in the air over 2 ½ days we arrived in Uganda (short side note: we got to stay in a hotel room for free while in Dubai—thank you Emirates airlines). We stayed with the missionaries in Kampala for 3 days and they took good care of us. I’ve been well inducted into Ugandan culture—local food, taxis (with 12 other people) and a boda boda (Imagine playing frogger except your’re riding on the back of a scooter, add in large potholes that could eat you and feeling the heat of an exhaust pipe on your leg … you get the picture).

While at the missionaries’ house we spent some time with different leaders from the Lutheran church who were in Kampala for training. They were very helpful to me in answering questions and helping me grasp the feeling of Uganda. These men were honest with their words, kind in their actions, generally hilarious, and faithful to both God and man.

On Saturday we drove to WAACHA, which is in Iganga, Bobogo. A family runs WAACHA; Noah, the father, came in his van to pick us up from Kampala. Together with two of his sons and three other summer volunteers (who will be working for the Lutheran Church of Uganda) we made our journey. We crossed the Nile on our way (rafting anyone? I pick yes).

God has provided richly and unexpectedly for us.

I have really enjoyed being with this family and the girls at WAACHA. Their hospitality seems unsurpassable. We got to attend church with them on Sunday and I am so excited to live everyday life with them.

Next task: learn everyone’s name.


Please pray that our relationships continue to grow and that their foundation would be the gospel. Pray that our hands would be put to good, honest, and helpful work alongside of our new friends. And pray that we would put aside ourselves to seek God’s will, and next to serve our neighbors.