Thursday, October 22, 2009

Headed east

Tomorrow I leave for Soroti, which is in eastern Uganda and is much more rural than where I live now. The family I will be living with will not have electricity or running water and they will have a latrine (most likely far from the home) and will eat with their hands. I am really looking forward to not only the new experience but also the break from classes and writing papers.

I will not have any contact, phone or internet, with anyone besides my family for a week and I will be away from UCU for ten days so this is my last post for a while.

Please pray for our safety while traveling six hours to get there, that I get along well with my family, and that I handle the language barrier well as it is unlikely that most of my family will speak English.

(This is me with some of the students of Off Tu Academy)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Praise the Lord!

There is an endless song,
echoes in my soul,
I hear the music play,
and though the storms may come,
I am holding on,
to the Rock I cling,

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives

And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

Praise the Lord:
-I went to the doctor today and though it was painful, my ear is now cleared of all fluid and junk and I can hear!
-Tonight is worship and watching the office: two of my favorite things to do :)
-Tomorrow I will be at Off Tu all day

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Off Tu girls

This is a picture of me with three of the girls who live at Off Tu's children center. Their names are Anita (5), Martha (5), and Lovis (6). This picture was taken by the fourth girl who lives at the Children's center, Allen (5). Caitlin and I really like playing games, eating dinner and sharing brownies with these girls. They love the game "Monkey, Monkey, Lion" (our version of Duck, Duck, Goose) and they call me Auntie Faith!

Highs and Lows

So, this has been an emotionally low week for me. I have had my fair share in the US but I have definitely found it harder to handle here, being so far from those who love me the most and know me really well. If you would like to share a verse with me I would love it as I am trying to soak up all the spiritual encouragement I can. :)

I feel like there is not much new to share. We are settling into a comfortable routine here; classes, internship, eating dinner, occasional movies and viewings of "the office". It has all become normal, though I am missing a few things about American college life: Ohio State football games, leaves changing, wearing sweatshirts, powderpuff football games, and coffee dates with friends.

On weekends we like to travel into Kampala, the capital city, because there is not that much to do in Mukono. This requires us to walk to Mukono and get a taxi. Taxis here are actually 15 passenger buses that stop frequently to pick up and drop off passengers. Taking a taxi usually means having to sit veryvery close to strangers (some of whom smell), a trip that is sometimes twice as long as just taking a normal car, and not being 100% sure that you will end up at your destination. But, if you go with friends it can be fun and it only costs about 75 cents each way. Anyway, last weekend we went into Kampala on Saturday to shop and eat American food and on Sunday we went to go to a pentecostal church...and eat more American food :) Tomorrow (Sunday) I am going there to play ultimate frisbee...a few of my friends go and though I have tried to convince them that I am not good, Angela is dragging me along anyway.

I also went to Kampala on Thursday (tho not by taxi) to see a doctor about my ears. They got a lot of water in them when we went in the Nile and have been getting painful since then. Well, the doctor gave me eardrops which have actually served to make my ears more painful and completely clogged so I can't hear very much right now. Hopefully, you all will have some sympathy as my friends here have enjoyed laughing at me asking, "What did you say??" all the time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm "Off Tu" my internship!

Every Tuesday and Thursday I spend 14 hours at Off Tu Mission where I'm doing my junior year social work internship. This involves several differant activities:

*Teaching at Off Tu Academy: They just started a school that is Baby Class (ages 3-4), Top Class (5-6) and P1, P2, and P3 which are equivalent to 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade. Apparently, being an American college student is qualification enough to let me teach classes on my own...I thought they were crazy at first. But I teach Baby and Top class PE, P1 Music, P2 Reading and P3 English. It has been a little overwhelming to be thrown into teaching with basically no preparation, but it has had some funny moments.

The best one yet was in P1 where they are absolutely crazy...especially with new teachers who only speak English. They were totally taking advantage of us (me and the other intern Caitlin) being new and overwhelmed and they were going nuts. The teacher had given us a stick to use (they regularly beat children in school and home here) so I picked it up, whacked the table to get their attention and said "Do your teachers beat you?" they all said "Yes!" and so I said, "Do you want me to beat you?", hoping to scare them into submission but they responded, "YES!" and began sticking their bottoms under the desks and begging me to beat them. It was the last thing I expected and at that point I realized I had no idea what to do.

*Painting latrines: Latrines, aka toilets/squatie potties, don't typically come with a way to wash hands but at the school they have water next to the latrine and they are trying to encourage children to wash their hands. So, they have given Caitlin and I the task of painting a mural on the latrines. The mural says "PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER TOILET" across the top, and includes a picture of a girl washing her hands, flies with the message "flies carry germs, watch out!", and a picture of a giant germ with a word bubble who says, "I am Mr. Germ and I like to eat children who do not wash their hands after toilet." It is my greatest artistic acheivement and I am really looking forward to posting pictures of our finished product.

There is more to my life at Off Tu but I am tired of writing now :) I'll explain more later!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Watch out Nile- here I come!

Saturday morning we left bright and early for Jinja, where we would spend two days on the Nile rafting and relaxing. I was sooo sleepy on the bus ride over and before we suited up but once we got going my adrenaline was pumping and I was wide awake!

Rafting was soo much fun. The Nile is supposed to be the best rafting in the world and the rapids we went over were certainly intense. The section of the river we took had four class 5 rapids (the highest that a raft is allowed to go over) as well as some 3 and 4 class rapids. Our raft (and all 10 people in it) completely flipped on the first class 5 and we lost members on a few other rapids.

This picture is not of me, but it is a picture of another group going over a waterfall that comes immediately after one of the class 5 rapids (I think).

Hopefully I will be able to eventually post pictures of my actual group going, but these pictures are basically the same as what happened to us:
We did get to relax and swim in the Nile during the trip and halfway through we stopped on an island and ate a really yummy lunch of sandwiches. I also discovered that my dream job is being a Nile river rafting guide or one of the people that kayaks with the rafts to rescue swimmers and paddles that get flung off the rafts. Our guides were some really awesome Ugandan, Tanzanian, American and Zimbabwean guys who were intense and really funny.
We rafted about 36 km on saturday which took all day, so needless to say we were exhausted on Sunday. Luckily, we just hung out on a deck overlooking the Nile and I watched some of my friends go bungee jumping over the Nile. I really wanted to do it but it was too much money for me to do both. I did climb to the top of the tower and checked out the amazing view.
As far as I know, I did not get any parasites from the water. And though I didn't see it with my own eyes, a crocodille was spotted really close to where we rafted (and fell out).

Friday, October 2, 2009

UCU friends

This picture goes with my last post...This is, from the left, Josiah Olal (Pres. of Kenya), Angela, Me and Eddie Oketcho (Pres. of Uganda)

We were at Eddie's birthday party. He had to sneak out of a student government meeting to be there, hence the suit and tie.

Ugandan Nightlife

One of my favorite things about being here is living with the UCU students in Honors College. There are four small dorms, two guy's and two girl's, with about 60 total students, of which 22 are American students. Some of the highlights are:

*"Going rolling": About once a week, around 10 pm, groups of students will "go rolling" which means we all walk off campus, across the street, to roadside stands where we buy rolexes. A rolex is made up of an omelette of eggs, cabbage and tomato wrapped in chapati which is like a tortilla but thicker and more delicious. It's a good snack and it costs about 50 cents and hanging out, talking, waiting for them to be cooked is a good way to kill about an hour.

*Honors parties: During our first week of classes we had an awesome dinner with HC students with a two hour dance party afterward. Then, last weekend we went to kingfisher resort, which is at the source of the Nile, on Lake Victoria, and spent a weekend just playing games, swimming in the pool and eating delicious food. We gave swimming lessons to some of our Ugandan friends, took a boat ride aound the Nile and had a dance competition.

*Family Members: At our first honors college dinner, I was adopted into a "family" of 2nd year students that they formed last year. My UCU family is Joel, the father, Erisa, Ambrose and Patrick, the brothers, and Florence, Ruth and Agrace, the sisters.

*Meeting future Presidents: UCU honors students, by being wealthy in their context and well-educated and in the highest class of those educated, are destined to be some of the leaders in various sectors of their countries. Some of them have really high ambitions, including President! Two of the guys that I am closest to, Josiah Olal and Eddie Oketcho have dreams of being Presidents of Kenya and Uganda, their respective nations. One day as my friend Angela and I were talking to them we began joking with them about all that comes with being President, especially paparazzi and official greetings and ceremonies. All of the sudden, Angela and I got roped into acting out the parts of their first ladies as they pretended to meet as Presidents. I got to be the First Lady of Uganda and Angela had to...I mean got the First Lady of Kenya. Two weeks later, it is a well-known joke around all of honors college and whenever we hang out with Eddie and Josiah, they insist on referring to us as their first ladies.

That's all I've got for now...thanks for reading!

-The future first lady of Uganda :)