19 January 2011

Finally Uganda!

UGANDA! Finally made it, after all the weather delays…arriving around midnight the airport was quiet so we got our luggage quickly, making our way to the exit, looking for Celeste. We were greeted by Celeste with a BIG HUG, and lots of catch-up kisses! At the airport I met Sister Valentine , Father Henry, and Dan. Pure adrenaline kept us up a few hours more after arriving to Celeste's site! Waking to sounds which would soon become familiar... Some type of bird which makes sounds not to soothe you to sleep, but demanding you wake up, the whisk of sweeping the unending dust off the sidewalks, the greetings of a new morning between neighbors, their voices reflecting renewed energy…UGANDA!!! "Webale"! Is the greeting you soon learn because everyone is sure to acknowledge whatever you are doing with "Webale"! "Thank you"!

"Webale", for sweeping, for cooking, for cleaning, for playing with the children, for resting, for gardening…it's wonderful! Another words, Thank you for living! Ugandans are warm, happy people, ready to accept you into their 'family'/tribe. I am happy to report I am now in the Engabi clan, meaning sheep clan becoming part of an extended family in Uganda! It is easy to feel an attachment to this wonderful country and it's people. The landscape here is a gardener's dream~ gardenia bushes which are almost trees, bougainvilleas running along fence lines, many of the same plants as you would find in the states but bigger, and blooming year round! We were lucky to come during mango season, the trees become more majestic with age. There are banana plants, plantains, matooke, avocado(YUM), sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and all the beans you would like to eat. Everything delicious! I can easily get use to the midmorning tea break and the afternoon tea breaks, they feed not only the body, but the soul ! A good habit to acquire, to enjoy someone's story of their day or the chatter of the children, or just feasting your eyes on your loved ones…to be re-energized! We have been to Queen Elizabeth's National Park, Rwenzori Mountains, Jinja to see the source of the Nile, Entebbe Botanical Gardens, the markets of Kampala, a beautiful shrine of the Virgin Mary, Padre Pio's Shrine ..have I mentioned hills??? Probably not because I have not yet mentioned walking~ lots of walking! ANYwhere of merit, I guarantee, will be on TOP of a hill. Forget the gyms! Come to UGANDA!!! I am not avoiding writing of the poverty here, which there is more than there should be(anywhere), but I wanted to first highlight the JOY shared from the Ugandan smiles. More later..., Tea Break !

-Guest Blogger, Isabel Arista (known in Kisubi as Mama Cele)

05 January 2011

It Has Been...

1 year, 10 months and 26 days since I last saw my family.

Exactly one brother and one mother are en route to Uganda, East Africa.

I'm nervous.

Look at that short-haired, 25-year old lady with her mom at DFW airport. I don't know if you can see how tightly i'm hugging her and my pillow, but it looks like after taking the picture, Stefan had to peel her outta the hug.