30 April 2009

Chekhov and the resurrection story

I have a great site. My two year old sister (who calls me mamma lestee or mamma celee) is helping me learn Luganda. Just like any two-year-old, she’s got lots to say, I just wish I knew what it was. My other sister is in secondary school and has showed me how to cook the most delicious meals. My third sister has taken me on walks and shown me the ins and outs of boarding a taxi to get to work. Then of course there are the other sisters (nuns) who are like my third, fourth, fifth, sixth and so on… mom.

Last Sunday I went to Mount St. Theresa Church for a mass in English. The homily was given by a brother from America and he gave a warm talk about knowing Jesus. The gospel was about the apostles not recognizing Jesus after he had risen from the dead and Brother said he thought Luke wanted to emphasize how difficult it can be for anyone, let alone the closest friends, to see Jesus. He talked more about our struggle to find Jesus in people or in actions that don’t seem to have any love or truth in them.

Then I read a short story called “The Duel.” A story about two men (so different they came close to being the same) ending up in a… you guessed it… duel. The story finished with what I thought Sunday’s homily meant for me. There are many times I think I recognize love-Jesus-truth and I’m full of joy. Then there are times I feel exasperated by what seems to be illogical or inhumane behavior/what people sometimes call the “Ways of the World.” From some of the things I’ve seen here, I think I will have to keep in mind that I want to find the truth-love-Jesus and it won’t always be as easy as waking up with the sunrise. Here’s the ending of the story:

“…the agitated, black sea. It hurls the boat back…she takes two steps forward and one backward, but the oarsmen are stubborn, they ply the oars indefatigably and aren’t afraid of the high waves… It’s the same in life… In searching for the truth, men take two steps forward and one backward. Suffering, mistakes, and the tedium of life thrust them back, but the thirst for the truth and a stubborn will drive them on and on. And who knows? Maybe they’ll reach the real truth…”

(I tried to remind myself of this semi-hopeful, stirring passage yesterday when my bike broke for the third time in a 30 minute time frame. “How does the search for Jesus-love-truth fit into this incredibly irritating scenario celeste?” Is what I asked. Then i laughed at myself for imagining throwing the bike in a ditch or a bush or rubbish pile. “You could use some patience and peace celeste” I said. Then I smiled thinking that maybe I had found a good part of life.)

25 April 2009

Sports Day 2009

Here are a few photos from a busy and exciting sports day. There were many events, including:
-matooke peeling and preparation
-hoola hoop races
-traditional dress race (who put on a gomez the fastest)
-100, 400, and 800 meter races
-soccer match
-sack race
-musical chairs
-bottle filling (who can squeeze a sponge the fastest into a soda bottle)

My house didn't win sports day... sad..
There are four houses: blue/Luke, orange/Kizito, red/Lwanga, green/Mulumba. They are named after the Ugandan martyrs. I have been put in blue house--> Go team blue! They compete against each other during events like Sports Day and are grouped together for chores and living arrangements.

I even got to march today!

Love you all

23 April 2009

Made it to a nice site

Just a short note to say i made it safely and soundly to my new home in Kisubi. My neighbors are a wonderful primary school for girls, some very friendly and welcoming nuns and a glittery lake victoria.

This is what went on in my head as i was walking around the grounds:
"What!? How is life so windy and rollercoaster-y? So happy and so bittersweet, surrounded by such good things but so far from family and friends, a new life learning completely new things but with knowledge and experience from my life so far...
Yikes..... Im loving life."

20 April 2009

Post Trainee... Pre Volunteer

The prospect of almost being at site makes me feel excited and nervous all at once. I think there is a big ball of emotion inside me rolling around soaking everything up! Plus i haven't talked to my momma or brothers in a long time and i just read an email from them and almost cried! (Out of joy and of course missing them...)

Saturday we had our homestay celebration and Sunday was busy with packing and saying our goodbyes to the friends we had made in our town. I was able to say goodbye to the family i met the first weekend when i went to mass. They were like a second family to the second family i have in Uganda, very welcoming and full of joy. We played a game of tag except if you cross your fingers or squat down on the ground the person who's It cannot tag you. So i was It for a long time. And the little one had a great time giving me commands in English (that her older sister was passing onto her.) Sit down! Dance! Comb your hair! Sing!

And this morning we said goodbye to our wonderful families and made our way into Kampala. We will be busy with training tomorrow and then we swear in as volunteers and leave to our sites on Wednesday. So far i know that i will be living right outside of Kisubi.

Thank you for all of the emails you have sent keeping me up-to-date on all the goings on. I think there has been a snag in the snail mail system, but im sure i'll get the letters/packages that have been sent soon. Thank you for thinking of me and be sure that i think of you all the time!
A big big hug

15 April 2009

Working near Entebbe

I will be working at a teachers' coordinating center near Entebbe. It all sounds great and good and i am having a nice day! It started out pretty muddily --> As in, lots and lots of mud. And it was pretty darn chilly. In true Uganda fashion,i was cold in the morning and then sweaty and hot by lunchtime. Reminds me of texas.
I miss you friends and family over there and am sending you some long distance love!

A big big hug.

11 April 2009

Today i ate at the Capital of Happiness

Amber and i at Mabira Forest

(had a great american like lunch at a cafe in Kampala today.)

Last week we had a presentation on the work of a Ugandan organization called Raising Voices. They work to educate Ugandans on the problems of violence against women and children. They gave us a lot if information about whats going on in Uganda. It was a motivating presentation and hopefully i will get the opportunity to work with them when i get to my site.

Our talent show was Thursday afternoon and i think we all enjoyed seeing everyone share their talent! Lots of singing, dancing, and cheering. It was a very positive afternoon and we got the chance to see and participate in traditional Ugandan music and dance. Our Luganda group did a cheerleading skit and i sang some songs and attempted some Ballet Folklorico.

I was so caught up in the fun and lightheartedness i completely forgot about the upcoming week's activities. Its kinda like finals week. Our secondary project ideas and presentations are due and our language proficiency test is on Friday. PLUS we find out where are sites are on Wednesday! Then, next weekend I am also going to give a speech in Luganda during our homestay thank you celebration. I am very glad to do it but slightly nervous i will say something completely ridiculous and/or inappropriate (Like when i was trying to ask someone if their food was good and instead said "I am not delicious" or when i tell people "Good Night" at 7 in the morning.)

We took a day trip to Jinja on Friday and were able to go to Sezibwa Falls and Mabira Forest. They are both found about halfway between Kampala and Jinja. The falls were so nice to see and hear. One of my favorite parts was sitting near the water eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mm! After the falls we went to the forest for a walk through the woods. While it looked nothing like the Dallas Nature Center, it reminded me so much of hiking there and hanging out in the fort. Amber and i went on an hour long hike and saw enormous trees - looking like they were trying to reach the clouds- lots of tiny, colorful butterflies and red-tailed monkeys.(!) We heard and smelled many wonderful things too. After the walk, we drove to Jinja. It's a planned city so unlike Kampala there is a sense of order. Both are neat cities, but Jinja was so sweet and quiet. Maybe it was so quiet because it was Good Friday but it really seemed so peaceful. I got to sit in a nice garden and drink ginger beer (think very strong ginger ale.) The afternoon was topped off with a tasty bowl of ice cream. (And i wonder why i'm gaining weight.)

Sometimes i feel like i am overstimulated by certain foods i eat here but it feels so nice to eat or drink something that is familiar. I think that's why listening to the country music station on the radio makes me smile to myself. It's so comforting. I have really enjoyed the short time i have spent in Uganda and i want to be as present and participatory in the culture and lifestyle here as possible... but man.. sometimes it's just nice to eat a pizza or listen to some Brooks & Dunn on the radio.

One part of my adjustment that makes me laugh are the sudden false senses i get. Like during heavy rains (the kinda that sound like the sky is falling) i get the sudden worry that i've left the windows of the Jeep down. Or when i'm getting ready for bed and suddenly worry that i've left some appliance on (1.there are no appliances and 2.many nights there is no electricity.) I've been so grateful for this change to have less "things" though. There is more to do outside, more people to talk with and more relationships to build. (Okay-- i should add that i don't feel grateful all of the time. Some Sundays i wish for a washing machine and sometimes when i'm riding home under the equatorial sun i wish for the Jeep.) But i am learning lots of patience and getting good workouts at the same time.

Then there are bursts of happiness like last weekend when Amber and i went walking, we were accompanied by a jolly group of little ones. Thanks to our Luganda classes we were able to sing the Uganda national anthem and the Buganda anthem with them. (Okay--just the choruses.) And i had the most fun evening walk i can remember.

All my Love--Muah!

P.S. it's been tough to write letters but i will start being more productive with them after our swearing in on April 22nd. (22nds are special!)

04 April 2009

Building Rocket Stoves!

This morning we had a PCV come to show us how to construct a Rocket Stove and i was a bit skeptical at first, but it was a success! (So far anyway, it takes about two months to dry for use.)

I always have a million things to say when i am not in front of a computer, but the minute i sit down and try to compose a blog, i space out. Hmm... lets see...

I'll start with the wonderful weather we have been having. I think the rainy season started late this year but it finally began. It has been really cool this past week. I have really enjoyed the sun and the warmth so far, but the breezes and sound of rain have been really comforting. It makes it hard to focus and stay alert in class when all i want to do is curl up somewhere with some african milk tea and read a book... But it has been a nice break from the sun. After the long, uphill bike ride home i am not as drenched in sweat as i usually am! ;)

Last weekend we were invited to visit the Ambassador's home in Kampala and he and his wife were very nice. We even got to go swimming! It was a trainee's birthday so other very talented trainees made some delilicious no bake cookies and we really had a great,sweet-filled day.

Last week we also visited a Primary Teachers College and got to tour their campus and teach some classes. The PCV who works there is really involved in all the goings on and is currently in charge of their computer lab and giving computer classes. He teaches math and Social Studies and seems to have developed a great rapport with the students and teachers there. It was very encouraging.

Another source of encouragement was a presentation we heard about Straight Talk. They are an organization that works with the youth in Uganda to encourage healthy life skills and decisions. They create radio programs and publish newsletters (different ones geared towards different age or interest groups) and have workshops and youth geared festivals. Most of their publications seem to be written and created by young people. So they are trying to encourage youth participation, peer education, and youth empowerment as well. I think it would be a great program to have at home too. After i heard the presentation i wanted to get out in the community and start working!

So we will be through with training pretty soon and it will be sad to part with the other volunteers that i have met, but i think we are all pretty excited and geared up to start our jobs.

I do have one teeny tiny request though.... Could you maybe pretty please write a letter to me.... Maybe you have and it is still on the way so thank you in advance, i'm sure i will be ecstatic when i receive it--Just a small connection from home feels really great and i really miss everyone! The other volunteers are really great though and it helps to have a support group of people who are so wonderful.

I miss you and hope you are enjoying the spring! I'm kinda bummed that i'm going to miss the bluebonnets off spur 408. Hopefully i'll get a nice picture of the pretty texas spring i'm missing... ;)

All my love :)