Friday, September 26, 2008
Ok for all you who are reading this, I am just going to worn you that this is a very informal and non-serious blog. Warning this will be a little graphic...beware if the contents of poop cause you to vomit, turn green, or feel nausea please....please do not read. In Africa pooping is a major event. It involves first finding toilet paper, which can actually take a lot longer than you think, because first you must find the toilet paper, whether it be borrowing from a friend or stealing some from some odd known place. But this issue of toliet paper is not over yet, next once you have the toliet paper you must then decided within that moment how much you will need. See the issue is that if you take to little, well needless to say you all know what happens. However if you take to much then the next time you have a "long call" you will be in major trouble. Once you have the toliet paper issue underhand you next step is walking the 5 minute walk to the restroom. All while holding your legs together as tightly as you can, because you are about to burst at the seams... Once you have finally reached the bathroom, oh by the way here if you say the bathroom people will take you to the shower. Here we call it the plain old toliet. Ok so you have reached the bathroom, which is one of two things 1). A hole in the ground the size of a small book 2) a porclain pot that has no seat on it BUT it is elevated off the ground. Ok so in the first situation you must be very percise, because if you miss will then you will be forced to use your toliet paper for other matters. In the second situation the issue is not with aim, rather it is with time. See here in Africa there is no such thing as having the time to just sit and wait for you b.m. because if you were to wait your legs would fall off. So that is a little about pooping in Africa, see you might think that pooping is a usually occurence. It is not. Actually it is a rare and happy occassion. Seriously as I am sitting here there is a peice of paper on the wall that tallies the number of times we as a collective team have pooped. So here in Africa we are constantly talking about when we pooped, what we have been eating and whether or not it has helped with our pooping mission. These are some of the insights to how we as Americans are involving ourselves into the world of Uganda...the end...
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So it amazes me sometimes how the Devil works (am I suppose to capitalize his name?) Oh well, so just as I began to love every aspect of being here in Africa, he hits me harder than I can ever imagine. Africa is wonderful I am truly loving the people, the landscape, and history. I have been inspired to love deeper, forgive stronger, and be a better Christian while in Africa. Each day brings a new fun memory, last night was the cutest thing ever. After having a long day of classes 8:30-8:00 p.m. I arrived home to find me two little brothers, Joesph and Stewart run up the high and hug me as I came home. They were saying "Katie, umfodayo" which means welcome home, we are glad to see you. I was so overwhelmed by their love and excitement that the days stresses just melted away. What I would not give for one of their hugs right now. Today was a day of great sorrow for me, I learned that one of my best friend's dad passed away over the weekend. As I sat being a selfish brat, complaining about class going over twenty minutes late. I realized that life's little problems are so meaningless. Here I was thinking my life was difficult and hard, when I was unaware of the pain that Dayna was feeling back home. As I sat here crying about what I read, I hated that I could not be with her, to comfort her, to just be a friend. What am I suppose to do? How am I suppose to be there for here? As the hours continued I realized that again I was thinkng in a individualistic manner. I realized actually just as I was writing this that although I may be able to comfort Dayna it would not be enough. My love would not heal the wounds she was feeling, I could not say the words she needed to hear, only the Healer and Provider of the world can and will do that. Even though it pains me like no other to be so far away from my friend who is in pain, I realized that God always has her. He knows what He is doing and the love that I may not be able to provide to her right now, He will provide. I realized that I needed to fall down and realize how weak again I am. I think I am going to be learning this lesson over and over again, I am stubborn and it takes a while to get some things through my head. Thanks for being patient and presistant God. I am realizing that everything, literally EVERYTHING is His and His alone. One of the girls in this trip, Kurty, was just singing a song that perfectly describes what I needed to hear today. It goes " Your name is a strong and mighty tower, Your name is a shelter like no other." His name is the name we all desire to hear. Trust Him to hold, protect, and comfort you.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Since being here in Africa, I have started to read the book "Captivating." It is a wonderful book that has really been making me think about myself and my purpose as a woman of God. The last couple of chapters have really hit me hard. In Africa there is a rule that as a white person you need to be inside by 7:00 at night. The reason being mainly for protection and safety. I HATE this rule. I struggle with wanting to just be free to walk down the street at night and do what I want. I admit I am not the smartest person when it comes to being safe and careful. I think sometimes I create the image that I am invincible and that no one can touch me. Well while reading "Captivating" I realized that the reason I create such a tough exterior is because I am trying to prove to everyone that I am not weak and that I do not need help. God has been really working on me with this issue here in Africa. Normally I never cry....I am just not a crying type of girl. But since being in Africa I have cried more than I think I have imagined. I have had to admit numerous times to my fellow American friends, that I am scared, tired, lonely, and afraid. I realized that I am truly weak to the core, I am unable to hold myself up. I need God to be the center beam that runs through me, without His help I will fall into shambles. Today this lesson became even more really while doing my daily devotions. My devotions talked about the door, the door to your heart and will. God is knocking at that door and might have been knocking for a while. But it is up to me and you to allow Him to come in and see all or mess and clean it up. I realized that I was keeping some of my doors shut. I allowed God to have control over certain areas of my life but there was areas that were mine and mine alone. I realized that I did not want God to just come in, I wanted him to break down the door. I wanted Him to remove the door completely. I wanted to stop trying to fix everything on my own and plan my future and how I think my time in Africa should be spent. I want to walk each day knowing that this adventure and day was made not because of what I did or didn't do. However, I desire to live this day in the light of God. Yesterday God really showed me this. As I walked home yesterday... like any other day... I decided to use this time to pray for people back home. I realized that many of the Ugandans think that I am already weird because I am white. Add on top of that a white girl who is talking to herself. I decided I did not care. As I was walk-praying a little girl came and ran up to me. She was probably about three years old. She grabbed my hand and continued to walk with me. I did not see here mother around or that she belonged to anyone. I did not know what to do, should I let go of her hand or continue to walk. I looked around to double check to see if anyone knew the little girl, it seemed that she was alone. So I continued to walk on up the hill to my house with my new little friend in hand. She never looked back, never question my judgment, she just took my hand and let me lead the way. Her hand remained firm in mine. Think about it what if we were that little girl and God was a strange white girl walking through your village. Would you have enough faith and courage to walk over and take His hand? Would you allow Him to lead you up a path that is unfamiliar and strange to you? It is a hard question and sometimes I know that I am to prideful to let God lead me up the hill of life... I still need to learn to let go and just hold His hand... by the way... the little girl's sister ended up being behind me the whole time... it just so happened that the two girl lived up a couple of house from mine...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The days here in Africa are never the same...one day it can be beautiful and marvelous...yet the next can be depressing and draining...but I realizing that the simple steps are the best...Ok so everyday I walk to my house...which is like a 20 minute walk...well it just so happens that their is a shack among the many...but this shack is special...because of one little boy... his mom, Sarah, owns the shack and sells wood and coal...So hear is the funny part..her son which is about 2 years old is terrified of me... I have done everything I can imagine to make him like me... I have bribed him with candy...talked a little in lugadan to him..but the same thing always happens... the minute he sees me he screams...like with terror...to his mom and will not stop until i reach the top of the hill... it is partly funny and partly sad at the same... Sarah kindly told me that he is scared of my skin...well today on my way to school...I walked past Sarah hut... and he waved to me... it made me the happiest person in the world...it amazes me how the little things in my life make me happy... i also got to cut my toe nails today which was like heaven to me... i am excited to go to bed tonight and not walk up with my legs all cut up.. and my last little moment of joy today was washing my feet... i had to scrub for like 10 minutes but they were finally clean at least the best they can be... this brought to like the image of washing of the feet... so there are my highlight for anyone who wants to know clean feet, cut toe nails, and a wave... keep looking for the little things in life for God will suprise you with the most amazing things..
Friday, September 12, 2008
OK, I am going to apologize for this long post, because I already know it is going to be very long. Where do I start, I guess with the honest and humbling truth. When I left for Africa I was excited thinking that I would never want to leave. I was excited and ready to see a new world, people, and culture. Well, when I got here I found myself only wanting to go home. Which is really weird for me because I would never had thought I would feel this way in a million years. I was frustrated that I was unable to connect with the people, I missed my friends, family, church, and school. But at the same time I was frustrated with myself. Rather than being in Africa and enjoying each and every moment, I was counting down the moments. What was wrong with me I thought? I was not talking with the other American students, I felt alone, frustrated, and defeated. But the sad thing was it was all me. I was allowing myself to feel sad and alone. Rather than being open and truthful. I chose to put on the image that everything was fine. I pretend that these problems would go away. I was trying to be tough. However, it did not work. I could no longer hold myself up anymore. I was coming to a crashing end. Yesterday, it rained here. Actually it poured, in more ways than one. God showed me through the rain and the mud, which is extremely difficult to get out of by the way, that I need to let go. I had been focusing on the problem and let it rule me. As the ran came down so did my pride, my strength, and my stronghold to controlling everything. I had been comparing myself to everyone around me, how they were communicating and getting to know the Ugandans. I could not measure up to their abilities. But a friend emailed me and opened my eyes to some things about myself. He reminded me that my beauty is shown when God shows through me. If I want the Ugandans to see God's beauty I need Him to make me radiant. God brought me to Uganda with a purpose and reason. While the first couple of weeks did not turn out the way I thought they would be, I am learning. Today was just day of learning for me. Lately I have been running with the Ugandan track team, let me just tell you for future reference they run FAST!!! Yeah I know that is like the most obvious thing in the world. But I am blonde and sometimes I do not think. Anyways, Safari, my running partner, and I were running this morning. We came to a hill as I looked up I felt my stomach turn with hate. How in the world was I am able to run up this hill, I was already tired. Well as we began our assent, Safari looked over and probably saw my face of dread. He said the most heart changing words. He told me to take it slow and steady. He reminded me that if I try to do it really fast I would get burned out once I got to the top and would not be able to enjoy it once I got there. So even though it was harder to take it slow sometimes, I did I slowed my pace down and focused on each step. I made it and Safari was right; rather than being out of breath I was able to look back and think I did it. I made it. Well this started me thinking about my life here and God's presence within all this. I can try to run the hill He gives me as fast as I can, but then I would never make it. I could just stop and give up, or I could take it slow. As I run the hill God is the one who is going to give me the strength to continue. He is going to remind me that my strength means nothing. It is His power and strength that He provides that keeps me going. Without either of them, I would just fall. It is humbling and a challenge for me to accept this truth. But as I think about the joy and strength I felt when I finished that hill, it makes me think of the joy and happiness I will feel knowing that God realized my inabilities and despite these faults He helped me accomplish something for His good. Slow and Steady!!! To simple words but they mean so much more. My day here in Uganda has been fantastic, I do not feel tired or defeated. Rather I feel energized and hopeful to see what more God is going to show me about the people and country here. I want to keep moving in His direction and I can't wait to look back in 3 months and see the hill He helped me climb. It is His hill that HE put in front of me, I can chose to take it or walk away. I chose to take it with God at my side to encourage and keep me going. He is going to be my feet when they can not move. He is going to be my legs when they are to stiff to move, and He is going to be the core the continues to flow through me. Wow I am excited and can not wait to be at the top of the hill I am running.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Africa there are so many words that could describe it....beautiful, tough, majestic, friendly...Since arriving here at Uganda my world has been one adventure after another. It started with two days of traveling, which turned out to be fun... I watched a lot of movies and got to know the other 43 students who are also joining me on this trip. I love the group I am with there are 14 students who are considered IMME-meaning they stay at a house with in Mukono like me. Btw Mukono is the village I live in. Um after all our flying the whole group went to Rwanda. This was a difficult but exciting trip, it involved a lot driving in a small, crapped bus, but it was a fun way to see all the different parts of Rwanda. Our group stayed at 5 different places. We meet victims and killers who were invovled in the 1994 Genocide. We went to a church where 10,000 people were masacared with knifes, machetes, and raped. When we walked into the church there were piles of clothes all lined up, it was a difficult and very sad thing to see. We also saw a lot of memorials that depicted the effects that the genocide had on the children in Rwanda. The amazing thing though about this trip was that even though we witness horrible, sad, depressing things there was the most amazing amount of hope and love. We meet three people one day, two of whom were victims and the other a killer. The killer had actually killed the entire family of one of the victims, the amazing thing is that these two individulas were friends they had rode on the same bike to the church that day, they were even neighbors. Here is an amazing story I heard while in Rwanda. There was a woman and a killer, the killer took the woman's child, her only son and burnt him over a fire like a chicken and made her watch. Then a month later he came back for her husband who he lit on fire and then chopped to death all in front of her. Well after the genocide the government held Gaccaca trials. The man in this stsry told of what he did to the woman and the crimes he had commited. Well the judge looked at the lady and asked her what she would like to do with this man. Amazingly the woman replied she would like to do three things: 1. She first wantd to let him know that she forgave the man 2. She wanted to take him back to her home and love him like a mother should and 3. She wanted to hug him in the middle of the court room. So this story just made me think about forgivenss and how often I hold a grudge. I get angry at the simplest things and think that no one understand how angry I am. However these people murder other peoples family memeber and they are able to forgive and love each other. I truly witness God love and forgiveness in Rwanda and I will never forget the people and stories I heard. Ok so on to some funny things... first um there are some fun challenges involved in living in Rwanda 1. sleeping with a mosquito net ( you wake up in the middle of the night afraid for your life thinking that something has you and you can never get out) 2. Peeing a hole that is smaller than a journal (p.s. the first couple of times you end up missing the whole and completely getting yourself) 3. Being called a white person 24-7 and then being asked for money 4. Eating food that you heard earlier clucking away 5. Having to wear shoes outside (Ugadans take there dress code very seriously you must have ironed clothes and very clean shoes) 6. Taking a shower under the stars (you might lose the soap a couple of times but no worry) Oh an add on, bucket showers are amazing... seriously I really do enjoy them 7. Boys and grown men peeing off the side of the road 8. When you ask someone a question and they raise there eyebrow that means that they are saying yes 9. Learning how to sit like a lady in a skirt ( I still struggle with this) 10. Meal time is fun dinner is at 11 at night and usually consist of food that is all the same color and texture (although I have to admit the Ugandans make some amazing tea...I LOVE IT!!!) 11. Realizing that the supermarket actually has American food, it is like Christmas 12. Never needing an alarm clock because the rooster is consistant ever morning to wake you up 13. The family chicken that loves to live in the house 14. Seeing woman carry a million things on their head, with a baby strapped to their back, while dragging a cow ( It puts us girls who say we can multi-task to shame) 14. Cell-phone service on a boat in the middle of the World's deepest lake (can hear me now...good) 15. Realizing that the cross walks mean absolutely nothing.. well there are just a few glimspes of Ugdana. Even though these things may sound a bit negative the country overall is wonderful. The people hear are so freindly they are constantly trying to get to know you, help you out, and learn about america. The country is beautiful and I am so blessed to walk to school everyday and enjoy it's veiw. The children ate the sweeties, adorable things in the world (I seriously have to remember that I can not adopot them all). These first two weeks have been a rollercoster of events. While I love Uganda I find myself missing my family, friends, church, and pillow. But the days are getting easier and I am learning how to take each day a little at a time. God is showing me that I am seriously nothing without Him. I am learning to trust Him with helping me get to know my family and learn how to get to know the people and culture here. I am excited to see how the weeks play out. Thanks everyone for your prayers and I love you a bunch...