Saturday, December 19, 2009

Back Home Again in Indiana

So after 3 days of travel, 20ish hours on a plane and 24 hrs worth of layovers, I'm home. Getting home sure was a journey. I was supposed to get home late Wednesday night but things did not go as planned. Danielle, Kristina, and I boarded the plane and sat there for over an hour only to be told that a hydraulic part of the plane was not working flying was a no go. Not gonna lie, at that point I was super tired and frustrated. We went back inside and were given hotel rooms at the Hilton and tickets home for the next day. I went from Uganda to the Hilton and it was a shock. They put me in a room with two beds, a flat screen tv, 2 telephones, a flushing toilet (complete with TP), and a shower. I didn't know what to do with myself, so I took my first American shower and slept.

Being home feels surreal. I think I'm starting to feel the first bits of "homelessness." I understand that I'm "home" but home doesn't quite feel the same. It's been awesome getting to see my family. I drove for the first time in 4 months yesterday... and I didn't die! Awesome. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and was starving and realized that it was 1:30 pm aka lunch time in Uganda. This was a funny and sad realization and I ate a handful of peanuts and went back to bed.

Today was not a day to rest and I got up and went to the travel doctor. I got checked out head to toe and was sent to the hospital to get bloodwork done. I also got sent home with not one but THREE stool samples to fill, no joke. They gave me some awesome "hats" to fill....oh and get this, I have to turn in the samples within one hour of filling them, if you get what I'm saying and I'm not allowed to do them all at one time. I get to dump and run three times this week, haha.

It's not that kinda "hat."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hello, Goodbye

So this is my last post from Uganda…crazy.

Our farewell party is tonight. Tomorrow they pick up our things. Saturday we leave for Entebbe and then we fly out on Tuesday night. And THEN I touch down in Indy late on Wednesday.

I’m going to miss Uganda, but I’m going to miss my new family and friends even more. Today as Denise and I walked to school the little kids (the posse) ran up to us and they held our hands (or whatever they could reach) as we walked up the hill to school. As I walked with them it really hit me that I only have today and tomorrow with them and my my family. I’m really going to miss it. Uganda is a beautiful place. This has been a great experience and I don’t want to leave it at that. I want to apply what I’ve learned to my life back in the U.S.

But I’m pumped to come back to the U.S. It will be amazing to see family and friends that I’ve missed so much this semester. I’m looking forward to my first U.S. shower, flushing a toilet, and eating a lot of vegetables, for real, haha. I’m nervous about driving again after not sitting in a driver’s seat for about 4 months and living in a place where I’ve gotten accustomed to being on the left side of the road. I’m so excited for Christmas and being with family. I’m also really excited to go to the travel doctor and see if there’s anything new living in my body (which I’m pretty sure there is). Not gonna lie, I think it would be awesome to be able to say that I’ve had an amoeba/parasite, haha.

So in 6 days and in 3 flights from now I’ll be back. I’m interested to see what shocks me about being back, besides the freezing cold. I may look like a tourist in my own country for a day or so. So if I do or say funny things, feel free to laugh at me, haha.

And Mom if you read this, don’t forget my winter coat!

Sunday, December 6, 2009 da ba ba ba, I'm lovin' it (Get it? It's like the McD's commercial...)

I think I'm starting a new trend in my life...writing blogs and putting off my work. Oh wait a second, I've done this my whole life, haha.

Today is offically my last Monday at UCU and I'm heading in the last week with my family. I'm not sure what to think about it. While I'm excited to go home, I'm nervous. Nervous about the transitions back into the culture, nervous about things that have changed while I've been gone. But worrying won't get me anywhere, so I'm going to go with the flow when I get back and take things a step at a time.

If you would have asked me 3 months ago if I would be sad to leave Uganda I probably would have said no and I never would have believed I would have gotten to the opposite extreme. I'm not counting down the days anymore because I know how short a time I have left. I've been reminded about how I almost always count down to things. I'm always looking forward to the next big thing that I forget to live each day fully. But as for the rest of my time here, I want to focus on the here and now. Home will come soon enough.

Last night we had 10 visitors from the Anglican church over to our house for tea and dinner. Three of them were from the UK and had gone to a Christmas Program in Kampala. Denise, my sister Judith, and I helped serve while our brothers hid outside in the dark waiting to be fed, trying to avoid any interaction with the visitors.

Things like this make me love my Ugandan family. I love the way my mom is so quiet but she has a funny, stubborn side. Yesterday she got tired of our dad being on the phone so when he wasn't looking, she hid it. He was searching the house for it and she didn't say a thing, haha. I love the way my dad talks about how we can show our future in-laws our Ugandan hospitality/cooking skills and how we should kneel for our parents in the airport when we get home. I love talking with my brother Brian, chasing him down the hallway at our house, and listening to him sing throughout the day. I love being with my sister Judith, listening to her laugh, and just talking about random things with her. I love watching my brother Simon rock out to music videos when he thinks no one is watching and the high pitched voice he uses when he talks to us. I love when our cousin Defus comes home each night on our family's boda boda and knowing that he'll be taking care of the chickens every morning when I get up.

Life here is great and I’m soakin’ it in. Family and friends back home, I love and miss you. See you soon :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reaching the peak- throw your hands up

So 16 days until I fly home....crazy! I'm at the stage where I'm super excited to go home but where I'm loving Uganda (minus the writing papers part, haha). I feel like I'm climbing the top to the peak of the roller coaster and about to fly down the other side. Once I get all my papers down...the sliding down the other side with my arms in the air starts. Last night Denise and I made dinner for our family. Denise is a great cook and we made homemade tortillas, 2 kilograms of meat (I have no idea how much that is in pounds, haha), homemade refried beans, spanish rice, guacamole, toppings for our tacos (lettuce and tomatoes), and fresh pineapple. We cooked it all on two small charcoal stoves- it kinda felt like we were camping. Anyways, our meal was a hit and I'm pretty sure our family was shocked that we could actually cook something edible. They saved the leftovers for breakfast and lunch today, haha.

Tomorrow (Dec. 1st) is World AIDS Day. We've been learning a lot about HIV/AIDS here at school and the sermon at church yesterday was dedicated to it. Everyone is Uganda has been affected by AIDS, whether they themselves are battling it or have a family member or friend living with it or that has passed away. AIDS is a monster that is wiping out a huge section of the young adult/middle age generation leaving many children behind. You've got grandparents raising their grandchildren or child-headed homes. Last Friday I went on a fieldtrip to Mildmay hospital where they treat HIV/AIDS patients. It was a Muslim holiday so there were no patients coming in for treatment but we did get to see the children's ward. That was tough, especially knowing that those children got HIV/AIDS from their mothers or through sexual abuse. Treatment at Mildmay is free, which I think is awesome because medical treatment is not an attainable thing for many low income families, especially when ARVs are needed.

So I'm not sure how much everyone knows about the conflict that has gone on in northern Uganda and southern Sudan considering the LRA, child soldiers, and Joseph Kony, but it's terrible. If you want to learn more you should check out Anyways, the church I attend in Kampala brought in women from Gulu who had all been abducted by the LRA as small girls and that were all HIV positive. One woman was named Evelynn. She was a beautiful 27 year old woman who revealed to us that she had been abducted when she was 12 yrs old. She was given to a much older man as a wife and she had 3 of his children. This man was Joseph Kony. For real, this woman had been one of Joseph Kony's wives while she was kept there in captivity for 11 years. One of her children was lost during the war and a second child was lost during their escape. She doesn't know whether that child is dead or alive. It was amazing to see how God had transformed her life and how He's healing all the hurt she endured. One of the officials of Gulu came and spoke as well saying that millions and millions of dollars have been poured into Gulu...but that most of it has not brought about change. Sure you can build a community center but what good is it if you don't address the emotional and spiritual needs of broken people?

On a lighter note it's grasshopper season here and last week it looked like the plague. Children here go nuts and run around hunting them fry and eat. Apparently they are really good, but I haven't had the chance to try them, so sad. Not, haha. Those things fly around and hit you in the face and I'm not going to lie they are terrifying in the squatty potties as you pray that they don't fly on you while you're in there. Our family's cat found a dead chicken into the house the other night. It was gross and smelled worse than it looked as the cat was chewing on it. My brother Brian and I collaborated and we've named the cat Stupid (Brian's contribution) Kevin (my idea). So Stupid Kevin once again is on bad terms with my family.

I can tell I've been in Uganda for a while. I've worn my flip-flop Teva's all the way through the soles. I've tried duck tape to repair them...but they leak really bad when it rains, haha. Oh well, I got my money out of them and have walked many many miles in them in the past 3 and a half-ish months.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


A year ago today I lost my Grandpa Hopewell. I can't believe how quickly that year has gone by, but I remember that day so clearly in my mind. It's was probably one of the hardest days that I've experienced, but I wouldn't have chosen to be anywhere else than besides that hospital room. I still remember that the last thing he said to me was " I love you hon."

I still remember the sound of his voice, his laugh, hugging him every Tuesday night after our weekly dinners, and hearing him yell at sports games on TV. I miss it. I miss his stories, his stubborn, funny personality, and just being with him.

I also remember realizing the week that he died how important my family is and how thankful I am for them. I remember being so thankful for the friends who listened to my constant phone calls and for those who came to be with me that week.

I remember praying so hard that week that my grandpa would be healed. And he was, just not in the way that I intended. God is good, merciful, loving, compassionate, and His plans are right. I'm thankful that my grandpa is fully healed and no longer suffering. I'm most thankful that death for believers isn't goodbye, but see you in a little while.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More than Pilgrim hats and Turkey

So I should be working on my ethics paper right now…but I’d rather do this. (shh, don’t tell my professor) To redeem myself a little, I already finished one paper this morning, so I deserve a break, right?

This past weekend our IMME group drove more than 6 hours to the Rakai district (where they believe HIV/AIDS may have originated) near the border of Tanzania to Kibale. We stayed at the Kibale Community Center and got to hear about the ministry of the missionaries there. It was a great weekend and we had a lot of down time, which was super nice. I feel like I’ve been going non-stop since August. It was great to just hang out with friends. I’m so thankful for everyone in the IMME group. It’s sad that we’ll be heading in all directions in about 3 weeks, but I’m also thankful that I’ll get to see my family and friends.

Thanksgiving is this week and we’re celebrating here at UCU. All the students in the program and staff are gathering for our own Thanksgiving. I’m excited. : ) So in this time of remembering what I’m thankful for, here’s a quick run-down (because Thanksgiving is about more than construction paper pilgrims hats, turkeys, food comas, and football):

*Those back home who take the time to check in with me, it means a lot.
*My friends and family
*Watching the sun rise every morning as I get ready for school
*Going home each night to my wonderful family
*My mom’s matooke- I really like that stuff now
*The little kids in my village that are just as excited to see us now as they were 3 months ago
*Squatty potties, for real they’re great
*Watching La Tormenta with my brother Brian (crazy Spanish soap-opera dubbed over in English)
*Random trips into Kampala
*The fact that it rains almost every day-I love watching the storms roll in
*Banana, pineapple smoothies
*That I haven’t died riding in the taxis here or been hit by a car when I run across busy roads
*For all that I’ve learned this semester
*Washing machines, showers, microwaves, and Boy Meets World re-runs
*That I’m not being given up on despite my shortfalls and mistakes

Ok time to write paper number 2 for today...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Random Thoughts

*I can now catch a taxi, ride it to Kampala, and I know how to make it stop, haha. (you either yell "conductor" or tap the inside of the taxi)

*Taxis are nuts- the taxi I took yesterday hit 2 other taxis and didn't even stop.

*Getting lost walking around Kampala isn't a big deal and doesn't scare me anymore.

*I now say "mmmmm" (the Ugandan way) for yes instead of "mhmmm"

*Elderly Ugandans always make me smile

*Ugandan women are beautiful no matter what their age. They do so much, work so hard, and do what they can for their families- I have a lot of respect for them.

*I'm learning to embrace my "mzungu"(white person) title, but I still like to shout "Oleyotia, moodu gavu!"(Hello, black man) back at the boda boda drivers that call me mzungu- don't worry, they laugh.

*It feels weird to wear jeans b/c it actually shows that I have 2 legs....starting to really enjoy skirts.

*There are nominal Christians wherever you go.

*There are so many more Muslims in Ugandan that I ever thought. Sometimes I can hear the mosque's call to prayer from my house.

*I can now cross the busy main roads w/o running and screaming every time. It's like a real-life game of Frogger.

*When I hear the word "toilet" I automatically think of a squatty potty.

*I get really excited when I hear American songs on the radio even if they're old songs from the '80s and '90s that I never liked before.

*I look forward to eating my mom's matooke for dinner. My favorite soup to put on top is cowpea soup....they are like peas

*I miss working out. Once when I was doing sit-ups on my bedroom floor my mom walked in and said, "Eghhhh Kristen, you want to kill yourself?" haha

*Cups are a necessity for washing hair when bucket bathing.

*It sometimes feels weird to see other "mzungus" in town, especially in Mukono.

*When I eat "American" style food now, it really messes me up. Adjusting back home will sure be an adventure, haha.

*I wish the U.S. had Fanta Passion (passion fruit soda). It's my fave.

*I'm starting to like Top Up (runny ketchup wannabe) over Heinz.

*Even babies over here can bust a move- they've completely got me beat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sticking with It

So life is good. I feel like I'm finally took 2 months, but hey, at least it's happened. I realized how little time I actually have left here and I'm really trying to make the most of each day. I'm reminded that I only get to live this life once and there aren't redos. This has been one of the most stretching things I've ever done. It hasn't always been easy, but I'm so thankful for this experience. There have been times where I have been so frustrated. I got tired of sticking out everywhere I went and having eyes follow me, comments yelled across the street, and being called mzungu.
There were times when I'd sit and pray and God seemed silent and so far away. This frustration brought me to tears but I continued to pray and through it I was reminded that God is God and that He's present even when I don't feel it. I think that period of frustration caused me to seek Him deeper as I searched for His heart. God showed me how much I truly, desperately need Him every day. I can't imagine life without a relationship with Him. God's ways are higher than ours and so are His thoughts. He's loving, compassionate, and knows us better than we know ourselves. This may all kinda seem like "Duh, Kristen." but I really had to be reminded of that.

“I'm getting into you
Because you got to me,
in a way words can't describe
I'm getting into you
Because I've got to be
You're essential to survive
I'm going to love you with my life
He said, I love you and that's
what you are getting yourself into.”

-Relient K (Getting into You)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kapchorwa aka Awesomeness (I think I just made up a word, oh well)

So it's been awhile and a lot has happened. I wish I could fill you in on everything that's happened in the past 2-ish weeks but that would take super long and you probably wouldn't want to read it all, haha.

Well Kapchorwa was absolutely beautiful- mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, and most importantly some of the nicest people you'll meet. Ok, so Mukono isn't the Uganda they show you on TV or on National Geographic, but driving to Kapchorwa I totally felt like I was seeing those previously seen images- round huts with grass roofs, beautiful women carrying water on their heads while carrying babies on their backs, and hills with mountains in the distance.

I ended doing this home stay solo which I was both nervous and excited about, but my worries quickly faded. I got dropped off at my home stay late due to rain and stuck vehicles. So I meet my father, Patrick, and we start hiking up these giant hills in the dark in our gum boots. Not gonna lie, I was so proud of myself for not falling.

My family was wonderful. My father Patrick was a headmaster of Tuban Primary school. My mom, Joy, was a primary 2 teacher. I had 5 brothers but I only got to meet one since the rest were out of the house. Aggrey was my 13 year old brother and he was a lot of fun. I had 3 girl cousins staying with me: Esther who is a nursing student in Mbale, Immatculet who lives in our village and was in secondary school, and then Karen who is 7 years old and absolutely hilarious.

That week I stayed with my family was filled with new experiences and lessons learned. Some days seemed to drag on, especially from the time I got up until about noon. Those people make so much use of their day, getting up around 5 or 6then working until dinner which is followed by bed around 9 or 10. There were several mornings I woke up at 6:30 and when I walked out of my room my family said, “Oh, you slept in.” I was thinking, “Are you kidding me? Back home I can sleep in until 10.” Haha

As far as new experiences I got to carry water in a jerry can on my head for a couple miles (African women are extremely tough. They gave me a small can and my next was killing me by the end) and I prayed the whole way “Lord, help me not to drop this water and to not bite it and fall down this muddy hill.” I fed my family’s cows banana leaves, picked coffee, plucked a chicken and I was later made to eat it’s organs at dinner plus the chicken’s unformed eggs (almost lost that dinner at a couple points), climbed a cliff in a skirt and flip flops (kinda terrifying, haha), went to 2 farewell parties for primary 7 students and my dad made me give an impromptu speech at one of them, visited both of my parents’ schools and got asked awesome questions. Some of my favorites: Do you eat donkeys in America? How many women does Obama have? Are you going to live on the moon? What kind of lotion do you use on your skin?

People in Kapchorwa seem to get life so much better than we do. They have time for one another and a random visitor is never an inconvenience. They make their guests feel special and always feed them and give them some tea. I experienced this first hand. I’ve never eaten so much in my life and over the course of the week I think I had over 30 cups of milk tea. People there are so loving and they freely give of what they have. Some of my favorite moments with my family were spent in my family’s kitchen at night sitting around the clay oven talking about all kinds of things. Life is simple and so good.

I think this is all for now. I’ve already written a book, sorry! I can tell you more about when I get back to the U.S. (which is in 6 weeks, crazy).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You Gotta Look Up

So I leave tomorrow for my rural home stay in Kapchorwa for 10 days. It should be great, awkward at times, new, confusing, and I'm sure I'll come back with lots of memories.

As I walked alone on the path to school today I realized how beautiful this place is. That might sound dumb, but I seriously forget to look at the world around me. Usually I'm too busy looking at my feet to make sure I don't fall into mud pits that are scattered along the paths after morning downpours. There are days that my feet feel about 10 pounds heavier because of the massive amounts of mud caked on my sandals. Guess it's like natural ankle weights, haha. Anyways as I continued to walk I realized that my walking routine translates over into how I live my life. It's easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, only looking at ourselves. I forget to look up and out and to see the world and people around me. I miss chances to build relationships and opportunities that God can use because I'm too concerned with my own life and worries-the mud pits along the path.

Once that thought hit me I looked up the rest of the walk to school. There are so many people I cross paths with and I have to believe they're not by chance. Every encounter is an opportunity to let that person they know matter and that they're acknowledged. Even if it's just smiling and saying hello, you never know how God can use it. I know my spirits are lifted when someone takes the time to say hi to me as I walk through town. It's nice to be met with a smile instead of the usual blank stare, laughs, critical looks, or being ignored. That's just something that hit me this morning.

Oh our one remaining cat decided to decorate my brother Brian's bed again, haha. He was so mad and while I felt bad, I had to laugh. That cat has it out for my brother but that cat better be careful because Brian's now threatening to toss it to the dogs...that will eat it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

So this past weekend was just what I needed. I got to sleep in until 8 am, which is awesome. Denise and I decided to head to the market to check things out and we bought fresh vegetables. I can't tell you how exciting that is but it was great. We bought huge avocados, onions, green peppers, and carrots. From the market we hit up the super market then headed to our friends Rachel and Christina's house to buy African fabric. Their brother took us into town to a seamstress who let us design our dresses and then she measured us. So in about a week or so I should have a new dress...I just hope it fits. Before we headed home we stopped for Rolex's (a chapati, which is like a tortilla/flatbread, filled with egg and vegetables) and rented a movie. (I'm pretty sure we walked over 5 miles back and forth through Mukono town) Once we were home we watched our movie (Ladder 49) and just relaxed...and then decided to head back into town again for drinks from the gas station and another movie. Nothing like hiking through the village for some apple juice and a candy bar.

The vegetable moment had to be documented.

As we were heading home it was starting to get dark and there are no street lights in Mukono. So when it's dark, it's dark except for the occasional light from the headlights of random cars and boda bodas. I literally stared at my feet the entire way home and I know we looked hilarious b/c our depth perception in the dark is horrible when trying to figure out if the dirt road slopes off or not. So you have two mzungu girls wobbling on the side of the road half way hunched over b/c we couldn't see the road. We finally made it home and nobody got hurt. That's a victory in my mind.

The power went off for a little while that night and I'm not gonna lie, I was scared. The power going off is a normal occurrence and you never know how long it will be out so you got get your flashlights and light the kerosene lamps. But that night it was especially scary b/c 1. it was absolutely pitch black 2. you usually know it's going out b/c lights start to dim or flicker, but this time they didn't 3. the wind was howling outside and it was causing old wooden doors to swing back and forth like in scary movies, haha. I have to admit though, I like when the power goes out b/c it's seems like those are the times I have the best conversations with my family.

Denise and Brian

Well this is long enough and I have a midterm to write. My time here in Uganda reached the halfway point today. This Friday I head out for my rural home stay in Kapchorwa (near the Eastern border). I'm excited and nervous, but it will be interesting.

My sister Judith and me

Friday, October 16, 2009

Every Day is a Winding Road

I'm grateful that the weekend is here. I'm ready to rest. Probably won't get the chance to sleep in. There's no mercy past 6 am at our house. I've been feeling sick off and on this week and I'm really hoping that I don't have a parasite...but there's a good chance that I will probably pick one up at some point and will bring it with me in December. I looked up symptoms of having parasites online and it wasn't helpful at all. It was one of those lists that said things like itchy nose, stomach pain, headache....things that I encounter everyday here, haha.

I'm not really sure what to write, I've had so many thoughts swirling in my mind this week and I'm not really sure where to begin to sort them out. Coming into this semester I knew there were going to be hard, frustrating, and confusing moments but I put it in the back of my mind. I know I'm only here 4 months, but when you try to live in a new culture it's not all happy faces and smiles. It truly is a roller coaster but I feel like I'm learning things that I couldn't have learned by staying in my bubble in the U.S. Last night I found myself so frustrated with things and as I tried to sleep all I could do was cry. Sometimes I feel like I let my host-family down because I'm not picking up on Luganda very quickly and because I'm not as spunky and charming as some of the past girls they've hosted that I hear stories about a lot. It felt good to let it all out and to pray being completely real with God.

Even though I get frustrated at times and feel inadequate, I know it's all worth it. I'm learning to be comfortable with who I am. I'm learning that I'm more introverted than I previously thought, that I don't fully understand how much I need God, and that there are things about me that don't change despite my location. My role may look a little different within my family context, but at the heart of it all I'm still me. I can't fill the role of a past girl because I'm not that person. I'm a work in progress and I have so much to learn, but I do know more than I did just 2 months ago.

There are still days when being in Uganda seems unreal and I wonder what I'm doing here. But I'm reminded that I don't know the big picture but I get to see little pieces of it at a time. My realization of my need for God has been made so much more obvious in this new setting. I'm learning that people are people no matter where you go. They are never meant to be your "project" no matter how in need they may be. I'm realizing that my love for the elderly and for babies doesn't have borders. I'm learning that I don't always have to have something to say, but that just being present is what really matters.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This past weekend we went to Luweero and stayed at Luweero's Anglican Diocese guest house. We had a FLUSHING TOILET, SHOWER, and a FULL LENGTH MIRROR. Exciting! It got interesting though b/c the power went out Saturday afternoon and when I woke up Sunday morning to get ready for church it was still off. It was 5am so there was no light at all so I got to shower by the light coming from the screen on my camera, haha. Every minute or so I had to turn the camera back on.

Saturday afternoon they took us to Nsawo school where local kids go on Saturdays for a day of games, singing, activities, and a meal. Many of the children were Compassion International kids. That center serves about 280 children. I got to work with the 3-5 year olds and I loved it. We sang songs, played games with them, and planted trees together. We sat in an open field watching the older kids play duck duck goose and cat and mouse for a while too. It was a perfect moment: sitting in a field with two little ones on my lap watching a storm roll in. I could have done that all day. Then the rains came and by rain I mean it POURED. We all made a mad dash for shelter and they told some of us get on our bus. I picked up one of my little girls and got on the bus. We drew pictures and wrote the alphabet on the foggy windows together. Before I knew it, it was time to go and I had to carry my little one back into the rain and wave goodbye.

Later that night we talked with a Catholic Priest and an Anglican Bishop and heard about their lives and ministries. Father Jerry, the Catholic Priest, sees so much poverty, disease, and death in his daily life. His stories were heartbreaking and it amazes me how he continues to serve and serve. Really makes you think twice before you start to complain. I have a roof over my head, a family, food to eat, clothes, and shoes on my feet.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm proud to report that my cell phone avoidance tactic from the US works in Uganda. So you know how at most malls they have those kiosks in the aisle ways and there always seems to be at least one that is selling some kind of lotion/hand care stuff. Those people like hunt you down when you walk past grabbing for your hands and I get tired of it, so when I get near those areas of the mall I pull out my cell phone and start talking to myself or just smile stupidly like I'm listening to someone on the other end throwing in a random "Mmmhmm." Back to Uganda- when I walk home I pass by a secondary school and let's just be honest middle school/high school aged boys and some girls aren't always the most fun to be around. They make comments (in Luganda of course), laugh at you, and sometimes they even crowd around trying to get a reaction out of you. I usually try to remain as inconspicuous as possible on most days but that doesn’t work so well because I pretty much glow in the dark. Yesterday I was getting fed up with it so I pulled out my cell and pretended to answer a call and held the phone to my ear until the school kids where out of sight. It worked and I got left alone- another small victory, haha.

Once I reach the dirt paths it’s all good b/c from there it’s just small children that yell at me. They will yell “Hi Mzungu” until I'm out of sight even after I say hi to them and ask them how they are. Funny story- as I continued I saw a couple orange things moving out of the corner of my eye in some tall grass. My first reaction was that “oh, it’s couple red-headed children” but then I quickly remember that I’m in Uganda and that they were chickens, haha. I got ambushed by the kids by my house again and they tried to teach me how to dance…that didn’t work out so well. They sang songs they learned in church, taught me a Ugandan game, said the Lord’s Prayer for me and they made sure my eyes were closed too, and then they asked me to sing to them. The neighbors that were staring sure got some free entertainment watching a mzungu trying to shake her hips and sing. The kids kept crowding me trying to feel my hair, climb on my back, and they were so fascinated with my skin and the fact that they could see my veins.

Since I’ve been here in Uganda it’s been hard to find moments to be alone but as I figure out my surroundings I’m finding little spots to escape to- the open field at the top of the hill by my house, the veranda at my house at sunset, and the old chapel at school. I just started using the chapel this week. I was having a rough day and just needed to get away and do my quiet time and I happened upon the old chapel that happened to be empty, score! There are days where I thirst and crave to be alone with God- to be silent, to sit, to read, and to journal. I’m so thankful I’ve found a spot to do that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

So I don't have a lot to say today. I'm not feeling very well and on the way to school today I heard there has been an outbreak of swine flu....hope it doesn't get me. Anyways, here's some pics of my neighborhood posse.

Beautiful girl

He was excited


Some of my little buddies. Check out the ones trying to be gangster in the back row.

This little guy cracks me up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Random Happenings

So yesterday I was walking the short-cut to my house which consists of walking on really muddy paths past a bunch of little houses. Whenever I get to a certain point there are these little girls that sound the "mzungu alarm" as I like to call it. One shouts "Mzungu, mzungu!" and before you know it there are like 10 kids running at you. So they all smashed into me and were pulling on my arms, my back pack, pretty much any part of me they could reach even if it an area I didn't want touched, haha. They almost pulled me to the ground as I tried to walk. When I finally walked onto my front yard they all just stared at me smiling and they speak maybe like 5 words of English if that. If I did something they copied me so I got some free entertainment. I spun them around like airplanes once each and then said I needed to go inside. Then came the hugs. I'm pretty sure I hugged each of them at least 5 times, no joke. Every time I took a few steps toward my house they'd follow me wanting more hugs. They're hungry for love and I'm more than happy to give it even if it means that saying "see you later" takes 10 minutes. We ended the night with high fives and they finally went home. :)

My brother Simon is home from boarding school for a few days. It's been nice actually getting to know him a little. I totally thought he was about 17, but he turns 15 next month. I watched the Amazing Race with him last night and when the contestants had to white water raft he said, "That makes me fear for my life." haha

I found American style peanut butter at the City Shopper Super Market. It's over $4 a jar, but so worth it. I'm pretty sure I've eaten it everyday this week. But I need to lay off or I'll gain lots of weight and go broke.

I haven't really seen myself in a mirror in about a month, unless you count my pocket-sized mirror that shows you like one eye at a time. I never really know what I look like, which is kinda nice b/c if I look bad I can just stock it up to the fact that I can't see myself. Plus I can never tell by the reactions of the other Ugandan students if I look weird or not b/c they stare all the time, haha. So the other day my parents' bedroom door was open (this door usually remains shut and locked). I happened to glance up as I walked by and saw a full length mirror in the farthest corner of the room. I looked around real fast and the coast was clear so I made a made dash into the room, looked at myself for like 2 seconds, and then ran for my life. It was a little rush and I felt like I got away with something naughty, so that was fun. haha, I know my life is lame.

When I got to Uganda our family had 2 cats. One got killed by our guard dogs. I guess they wanted a life-like toy. Luckily I didn't see it happen. Our second cat which is a tiny kitten decided to decorate my brother's bed. Brian walked into my room the other night with a sad look on his face and he looked at me and said, "The cat pooped on my bed. That cat is not my friend." hahaha, any time that cat comes into the house it has to watch out for Brian b/c he will promptly remove it and throw it outside. The cats aren't doing so well at the Mukwanya household.

Ok that's enough for now. Gotta actually read a book for my homework and then head for another weekend in Jinja.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where My Heart Is

My heart and thoughts are at home today. I got a call from my dad last night that my mom is in the hospital. (Dad, it was so good to hear from you. I miss you and love you. :) )She's been sick this week and turns out she needed surgery to take her gallbladder out. I haven't had any updates since last night and at that point she had not had surgery yet. I've been praying that all is going well, that her doctors will make wise choices, and that she is cared for. I want to be there with her, to keep her company, and to take care of her, but I'm here in Uganda which is 2 day trip by plane away from home. So Mom, if you're reading this know that I love you and that I'm praying for you constantly.

Getting that call from my dad last night confirmed one of my fears of possibly serving abroad one day. If things do happen to my family I can't just get in the car and go. That may be one of the costs of picking up my cross and following Him where He leads me. I praise God that He does take care of us and that He can use any situation to bring about good.

So Mom, take it easy, get well soon, sleep a ton, catch up on NCIS and So You Think You Can Dance, have Shelby make you dinner :), eat some popsicles, and do as your doctors say. Love you <3

*UPDATE: Mom is home recovering now. She is recovering faster than doctors expected, which is awesome. Thanks for you prayers. :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Friends

No matter what kind of day I'm having, the kids here always make me smile. There's nothing quite like walking along a super muddy footpath with at least 4 children holding onto you. Let's just say it takes skills and luckily no one's gotten hurt yet. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Day in the Life

Rooster crows
Family talking and cleaning
Wake up- foggy eyed
Bucket bath
Fumble in the dimness
No wrinkles allowed
Tea, bread, Blue Band, Zesta
Red dirt roads
Huge pot-holes
Watch your step
Stares from adults
“Bye mzungu!”
Waves and shouts from children
Some with distended bellies
Walk up hill
Sweat in the heat, humidity, and sunlight
Try to concentrate
Find motivation
Decipher accents
What was the question?
Rain storm- buckets
Run for cover
Fatigue sets in
Cramming in the assignments
Reading…and more reading
Head home
30 minutes pass
Local kids run up to meet us
Tugging my skirt
4 kids trying to hold my 2 hands
“Pick me up!”
Greetings from family
“You are welcome.”
Tea time...or hot chocolate
Catch up with family
Talk to the chapatti guys
Unwind from the day
Ugandan News or
Dubbed-over Spanish soap operas
Bathe again, if you want
Help wash dishes
Set up for dinner
Tummy rumbles
Dinner…at 9:30 or 10
Matoke, rice, bean “soup”, sometimes meat
Pass out,
"Good night."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to Reality

I just got back from Jinja last night and it was a great weekend trip. We actually stayed at a resort in rooms that looked like huts. It was sweet. We got to hear from several missionaries, went to a place called the Source Cafe, went on a devotional tour of Jinja, went out on a tour of the Nile, had pizza, and went to a local church. I really liked this past weekend a lot and would love to go back to Jinja again. This weekend also made me think about a lot of things. During our devotional tour a missionary named Ben took us around the town to different locations- starting first at the spot where Lake Victoria turns into the Nile, then to a street where many Indians used to live, then through an industrial part of town called the Ting Ting, all the while asking questions like, "Why are you here? What's important to you? Do you want a testimony or a title? How will you be remembered?"

Lastly Ben took us to Jinja Hospital to see what it's like. He told us to walk through the wards and to say hi to people. Jinja Hospital is the place to go for the nearly 2 million people in the area. It's nothing like an American hospital- you can wait WEEKS before you see a doctor and the staff doesn't really take care of you. They give you your meds but after that you're on your own. It's up to your family to take care of you, bathe you, and feed you.

When I walked into the hospital it was a complete shock. When Ben said "ward" I assumed it would be a hallway with double rooms, but it was really an open room with 15-20 beds. I felt so awkward being there. You've got extremely sick people laying in beds and we've been told to just go take a look. It was a struggle for me to do that- personally I think it would have been a lot better if we would have stayed the whole day and gotten to really talk to the people instead of just going on a "tour." I think the reason it made me really uncomfortable though was because of the conditions. Before I left I walked through a TB ward. We were told that people who have HIV and AIDS don't die from those diseases, but they die from diseases and infections they catch due to their failing immune systems. TB is a common culprit. When you get TB and it gets really bad your chest begins to fill up with fluid making it super hard to breathe, so it's like you're suffocating. If you're lucky they can insert a needle and remove some of the fluid. All in all, TB is a terrible thing to deal with. When I walked into the ward everything in me wanted to run. There were people laying on hospital beds hooked up to IVs and you could tell they were suffering and in pain. There was on man who was surrounded by his family and when I looked at him I could see him laboring for each breathe. His sides would rise and fall very dramatically and you could see the worried looks on his family's tear-stained faces. I don't know if that man was on the brink of death, but I don't think I'll ever forget seeing that.

Going to the hospital was a nice reality check. This is reality for so many people. Even as an American in Africa if I get taken to a health care facility, I could get seen a lot faster than those around me. I'd hash out my money and get taken care of. It's sad. But having sympathy for those people gets me nowhere. You feel sorry for a little while and move on. Empathy and reliance on God are what's needed to try to bring about change or to at least wage the battle alongside people. People are people no matter where you go and they all desire to be loved, needed, listened to, and to have a purpose.

This made me think about the question, "What are you here for?" A good story to tell? A "life experience?" It made me realize that my motives in coming weren't exactly pure. Part of me wanted to have that story to tell when I got back. But the truth is, yeah I'll have things to say, but people won't be interested for long. Sure I'm able to do something that many people don't have the chance to do, but it means nothing if I don't let this experience change me. I battle the desire of wanting a story to tell, but more and more of my heart wants to be here to be changed. To see where God leads and to let Him mold me. God's given me a chance to see people He loves unconditionally in a different context. He's showing me the widows, orphans, and the poor that He cares so much about. I'm also realizing that I don't know what lies ahead. Whether I'll live in the US or abroad when I'm older, but He's showing me the importance of following Him no matter the cost. I may have to be away from my friends and family and comforts of "home" but He's trying to teach me that His ways are higher, bigger, and so much better than my ways.

So the "I don't knows" remain and I'm learning to be ok with that. I serve a God who sees it all and whose timing is perfect.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Looking Up

The last few days have been pretty good. I think I’m getting the hang of classes and am finding routine in my “new life.” If you’ve been praying for me, thank you. I seriously mean that. I’ve realized that I need to take life a step at a time, day by day. I’m also learning the importance of the saying, “Wherever you are, be all there.” There have been so many times that my thoughts drift back to life in the U.S., which isn’t bad but when I choose to dwell on that and let my longings for home overtake my thoughts I’m setting myself up to miss out on things here. I need to appreciate the little things and see the little victories like the fact that my host mom is warming up to us more and she initiates conversations now. It’s awesome.

I’ve also been learning that when God calls us to obey Him, He doesn’t mean just when we feel like it. I knew this but I've been convicted about how little I live it out. Sure I may be tired and drained but that gives me no excuse to slack off. He tells us to love others- all the time. I need to rely on Him to fill me up and to be my strength, no matter what the situation or how I'm feeling. That’s been a thing I’ve struggled with b/c when I get drained I tend to retreat and get away for some silent moments and to pray. This is not a bad thing, but it becomes no good when I choose to isolate myself from others and not love on those around me. Anyways, these are just a few things that God’s been laying on my heart lately.

And now I would like to introduce you to my oldest brother, Brian. Brian is so great and he always makes me smile and laugh. He has a genuine heart for people and would love to work in the medical field. He worked for 6 months distributing meds to HIV and AIDS patients. I can often find Brian watching movies or walking around the house singing worship songs. He’s always got a smile for you. We’ve discovered he’s got a knack for playing the card game B.S. and we decided to teach him Spoons…which he’s slowly getting the hang of. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Not So Normal Week

So, there were riots here last week. I don't want to go into detail about why it happened b/c 1. I don't quite understand it all and 2. you may not understand my explanation either, haha. What it all came down to was tensions between the Kabaka (King of Buganda) and President Museveni. People decided it would be smart to start riots...they burned tires, cars, buses, people looted, made giant road blocks out of trees, and plain just caused problems. The riot police got involved using tear gas and rubber bullets. The first day we had to be driven home b/c of tear gas and the second day we had to leave school early and head straight home. I definitely saw burn marks on the road from the burnt tires and the trees they used for road blocks. I could sit in my house and hear the police firing bullets nearby. My host dad couldn't even drive home b/c of the road blocks and had to walk. My sister Judith ended staying at an uncles house for about 3 days because of the unrest. Not gonna lie, there were points when I got really nervous,especially when I could hear the gun shots near our house. Praise God, we are all safe and sound and it looks like peace is being restored. When we went to church yesterday everyone was definitely talking about tear gas all the time, haha.

I'm heading into my 4th week here in Africa, that's nuts to me. I feel homesick time to time. The craziest thing is that I feel the most homesick when I wake up in the mornings because I usually have just had a dream about home and the people there. I'm really thankful for my family here and for the friends I've made. I have the constant question on my mind of wondering if I'm doing things right. This experience will be what I make it and I know I'm learning things not only about Uganda, but about life and myself. But no matter how I feel (feelings can be deceiving) I know without a doubt that I am blessed and that God is always with me. As I sat on the front porch at my house yesterday, taking in a few rare quiet moments I was overwhelmed with a feeling of "I don't know." I can't really describe it, but as I prayed God reassured me that He's there, holding my hand.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You are God

You are God...
no matter where we are.
You are not limited by location, languages, circumstance, our mistakes, misunderstandings, by the boxes we put you in. You are not changed.
You are a God of...
compassion, forgiveness, justice, restoration, mending, unending love, miracles, and intimacy.
You are God...
of the poor, hurting, healing, broken, growing, confused, displaced, the journeying, the planted, the forgotten, lonely, the joyful.
Your love doesn't change despite our shortcomings, failures, or mess ups.
You ARE God.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walk with Me

I just got to school a little bit ago and I’m still sweating from the walk, haha. I’m so out of shape. Denise and I have a 30-40 minute walk, depending upon how quickly we walk. About 1/3 of that walk is up hill….we have to pace ourselves but luckily most Ugandans walk pretty slow as well. It’s kinda like life here goes slower anyway. It’s super common to walk down the road and just see people sitting on their front porches or yards. They have time for each other.

As I walk to school I pass small houses, little stores and stands, and lots of people on boda bodas (motor bikes). Life as a pedestrian is thrilling in a dangerous way. The totem pole of travel here goes: buses, vans, cars, boda bodas, bicycles, and then people at the very bottom. If you’re in the road you better get out of the way, haha.

As a white pedestrian there is a whole other element to walking to school and it’s constantly hearing the phrase, “Hi muzungu!” These shouts almost always come from little kids and they smile and wave as you pass, some get excited and jump up and down or follow you down the road. You get looks of confusion and fear from small children sometimes because lets face it, white people in an African setting look scary. I have to admit while I was in Rwanda I was talking to a woman holding a small baby and when he looked at me he let out a loud cry, looked terrified, and then hid his face in his mom’s shoulder. I made the poor baby cry because in the words of his mother “You, first muzungu.” Haha, I was the first white person that baby had ever seen. I bring fear to small children, oh man. The other group Denise and I get the most attention from is men. They look at you and say “How are you?” with a creepy grin. This hasn’t happened to me a lot, but this has been the most attention I have ever received from guys in my life…and I’m not sure I like it, haha.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So I feel like there's so much I could write about but it would be a huge novel and I might bore you. Rwanda is a great country. It has a past and the effects are still seen today, but their future is looking up. The genocide that occurred there took 1 million lives and it has effected the lives of almost everyone left behind. I've heard countless stories of loss and tragedy beyond what I can comprehend. It's easy to look at the million lost as a whole, but EACH life mattered. Each one was a sister, brother, mother, father, friend. Each person had a story to tell and I got to put some faces to the lost and to those left behind.

The hardest place was Nyamata Church in the Burgesera District. TEN THOUSAND people were massacred there. There were piles of people's clothes on the pews, blood stains, you could see where grenades went off, where the killers had broken through doors. Tutsi women were placed on the altar and had their babies cut out of them, people were killed over a period of days by having their limbs cut off, babies were smashed against walls, and if you had money you could pay the killers for a bullet so you could die quickly. We met a guy named Charles; he was one of 7 survivors at Nyamata. His mother and father were killed; his brother in attempts to save him covered him in blood and made him lay among the dead bodies. When Charles went to find his brother, he found that he had been decapitated by a machete. It’s taken Charles years to get back on track, but he is now a believer and is trying to forgive the killers. Throughout the genocide, women were raped, and some of those who survived contracted HIV from their rapists. Around 100,000 children were orphaned. Imagine watching your family be killed by a family friend or neighbor. That was reality for many Tutsis and moderate Hutus. I’m sorry to be so graphic, but I don’t know how else to describe it to make it seem real. On Sunday I met a woman at church who had us over for lunch and we learned that her husband and 5 children had been killed in the genocide. She was the only one left.

At Nyamata you can walk into these underground crypts. There are rows and rows or stacked coffins. Each coffin contains 25-30 peoples’ remains. We also went to the memorial in Kigali. There are mass graves located there where 258,000 people are buried. It’s crazy. More bodies are found each year. Rwanda is making moves to reconciliation. When you live in rural places, like some of the villages in Rwanda, you almost have no other choice because you need others to survive. Going to Rwanda taught me so much about what it means to forgive and my own propensity to want to hold onto wrongs. People who have admitted to killings have been allowed to have a shorter sentence and spend a good portion of it doing community service because the prisons were so overloaded. You can walk down the streets of Kigali and see men in blue jumpsuits- most of these men have been convicted of murder but they’re working off their time building houses for survivors, repaving roads, and terracing hills. I looked some of those men in the eyes as I passed them and could not imagine them killing someone else.

As you walk the streets you also literally sees the scars the genocide has left behind. A girl passes who is missing a leg, a man with no arm smiles at you as walk by, a man who is an orphan has reduced himself to begging and shows you the machete marks on his head. This part killed me. I see so many people in need who ask me for money and I’ve been given strict instructions not to give any handouts. The last guy I described found me outside a church and followed me inside saying “Genocide. Machete,” and he kept showing me the healed gash in his head. I struggled with the fact that God has a heart for widows and orphans and we’ve been called to help. But then I realized, money won’t truly solve the problems they face. They need people to love them, to let them know their worth, that they’re capable of doing great things, and that God has a plan for them. Long term, holistic development is needed. You can’t break the cycle of poverty by only giving money. Poverty is a tangled web and there are many factors involved. The sad reality is that many well-meaning people have only given money-which may seem like an instant fix. This has bred a mindset of “give me” instead of “walk beside me as you show me how to improve.” I’m still thinking this all through and trying to figure out where God’s heart is in it all, but I truly think it’s on the holistic side of things. I can’t fix everyone’s problems, God can, but I can seek to know His heart more, to ask for His eyes, and to love the way He’s told me to.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Uganda makes me want to watch the Lion King

So I made it! After two days of travel and over 20 hrs in air planes, I stepped foot into Rwanda. It was amazing to fly over parts of Europe, like Italy and Germany. Not long after I made it through customs and got my visa, Entebbe welcomed us by shutting off the power at the airport. But it gave me my first real chance to see the Ugandan sky at night. The stars are amazing.

On my first whole day in Uganda I got dropped off with my host family. They packed 6 of us in a tiny van with all our luggage, our jari cans, basins for washing, mosquito nets, gum boots, and trunks. As we wobbled us the red dirt roads to our homes I started to panic a little and started praying fervently for a roommate and sure enough I got placed with a girl named Denise with our program.

As we got out of the van I was greeted by my mom, Edith and my brothers and sister. They quickly carried in all our luggage and we were pretty much on our own. We had our first homemade Ugandan meal of rice, matoke (cook bananas that taste nothing like bananas), noodles, beef, fish, and pineapple.

I asked my mother how many children she had and I pretty sure she didn't understand me b/c she responded, "I don't know." My sister then asked her in Lugandan and she responded 10 and I was shocked. Turns out I only have 1 sister named Judith and 3 brothers named Mark, Brian, and Simon. Cousins here are called brothers and sisters. My dad came home late that night from school meetings- His name is Julius and he's the headmaster of Mukono High.

The house is pretty great. It's simple, but they have a tv, dvd player, bootleg dvds, and a computer. Here the bathroom is where you shower and that's a concrete room in the house. You was out of a shallow basin....I still haven't figured out the art. Outside is the kitchen with wood/coal/charcoal burning stove. The toilet is also outside. We have squatty potties here and it's pretty much just a hole in the ground. My first night there I went to use the squatty potty and when I opened the door a rat ran into the hole. I made the mistake of looking down into the depths w/ my flashlight only to find huge cockroaches. I decided to be brave and let's just say during the process the rat ran out btwn my legs into the squatty potty where Denise was. I didn't scream, it was a proud but terrifying moments.

I also got to watch my cousin Lamula and the maid Prose slaughter and butcher a chicken...oh my word. Poor chicken. Aunt Becky, if you're reading this, I still love meat :) They cut that thing's head right off and the chicken twitched really hard. Then they put the decapitated chickens into boiling water and pulled the feathers off, cut them open, pulled out their insides, cut them up, and cooked it. Crazy!

Well my battery is dying. I'm headed to Rwanda tomorrow for 10 days. It's a 15 hr ride.

Peace out girl scouts!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

9 days until I'm on a plane to

So much to do and so little time!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ok so, I love the show So You Think You Can Dance. I wish I could dance half as well as the people on the show, but I'm pretty sure I'm missing certain muscles and levels of coolness to ever do that, haha. Anyways, as I was watching a few weeks back there was a dance done about addiction. I thought the dance so great in the way it portrayed the way people become enslaved to addictions and sin. Sin entangles you, breaks you, clouds your vision, draws you in, seems to take control of you, and tears you down. It's crazy that we know it's dangerous and still choose to go to it. I know in my own life I wonder that all the time. And the more I give into a sin the more I become enslaved and numb to the severity of the reality of it all. Watching this dance made me think about my own struggles and how it truly effects my life and those around me. Once you get in so deep it can seem impossible to break free and thoughts of just totally surrendering to it can feel like the easiest way out. Been there, tried that, and it's not the right path. God's gives us freedom and it takes surrender,humility, vulnerability, and complete reliance on our part. I'm so thankful that I serve a God of hope and freedom.

Here's the link to the video, it's worth watching:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

He's Never Failing

It's been a while since I've been on here, but hopefully that will change as I get ready to leave for Uganda. In less than 3 months I will be in Uganda. It's hard to comprehend and I honestly don't think about it a whole lot. I think it's in part because I'm excited and don't want to have to think about the wait and in part because I'm nervous because I have no idea what to expect or if I'm cut out for it.

I've been home for almost a month now and still have no job. It's been a frustrating road and it can be hard not to take the rejection personally, but I'm learning that getting upset won't get me anywhere. I just have to pick myself up and try again...and be patient (that's the truly hard part). As much as I know I need a job, I have a peace about it. I'm learning to trust that God has something in store and that it might be found on my first or tenth try.

A huge reason I need a job this summer is to pay for my tuition and expenses for Uganda. All money must be accounted for before I get on that plane in August or I won't be allowed to go. Due to the fact that I'm choosing to go with a program that isn't run by my college, the school is taking away half of my scholarship while I'm gone. When I first found out about that back last fall I was upset but was thankful for the half of the scholarship that remained. I'd been praying that God would provide the money that was being taken away and this spring I received a different scholarship from the religion department and that was a HUGE praise. The scholarship a little more than covered the missing sum but this past week I found out that the scholarship is only worth half of what I was told due to the fact that the money for the scholarship was in the stock market. When I received this news on the phone all I could do was cry and the poor guy on the other end just awkwardly said he was sorry and hung up.

Part of me is tired from the hurtles along this path to Uganda. I even began to question if I all these things were meant as doors closing to Uganda, but as I've prayed about it I've been reminded that God has brought me this far and He'll see me through. He never said it was going to be easy, but He did say to trust Him and to act in faith. He's given me peace and I know I serve a God that is unfailing. The same day I learned that half my scholarship was lost, I got a check from a family member worth 5 x's what was lost. Just when things start to look bad God reminds me to not let go and to remember who's in control.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where did the time go? No, for real?!

So, this time last year I was ready to go home. I'm ready to go home, but man I'm going to miss people. This year has been pretty great. It's not always been easy, but I know I've grown because of it and I've made friends that I don't want to lose. A friend of mine posted a list like this and I thought it was I'm going to be a copycat. :)

What I'll miss:
-Dinner and praying as a "family"
-Chasing TDawg with the turtle
-Pastoral Care class, I learned so much
-Random trips off campus-Panera, Notre Dame, Walmart, Ritters, Barnes and Noble
-Walks to the river
-Those awesome discussions that just pop up about life
-my kiddies at the Daycare
-St. Mark Missionary Church
-writing to our "neighbors" in the next building over
-splitting bananas
-laughing...sometimes for no reason at all

-Squashed toads
-slip-n-slide, which turned into a mud slide
-Karaoke/dance party in the President's room
-Walking to work in the dark to work 3 days a week
-"sound" Frisbee at the river
-Melissa and her roomies' grills + photo shoot
-Fire drill while I was in the shower
-Time in the prayer chapel
-When Marj came to visit
-Swimming in Bethel's ponds. Been there, swam that!
-Road trip to Michigan
-Snowballs busting through our windows
-bird legs/talons

It's been a good year :)

Monday, February 9, 2009


The weather has been so beautiful lately and I'm taking advantage of it. One of my favorite things to do is go down to the Riverwalk. During these winter months I feel kinda stir-crazy and something within me aches to go there. It's like my getaway and I have days where I long to just be silent and to be alone. It's how I recharge. I think I could sit out by the river all day.

I found out today that Sydney's grandpa died. Sydney is a little girl I watch at the daycare and I've really grown to love her. Her smile radiates from her face and I love the times when she sings and dances around the room. She doesn't care who's watching, she's just herself. My heart hurts so much for her. She may only be 2 1/2 and may not understand what has happened, but she will notice that her grandpa is not around and may watch in confusion as her family cries. Sydney loved her grandpa so much. On many occasions I've caught Sydney using an old boom-box microphone as a telephone and she would pretend to be talking to her grandpa on it.

Life on earth is broken and my heart aches that Sydney will not get to grow up with her grandpa around. She will not remember the sound of his voice and most likely won't remember many of the times she spent with him. She'll get to know him through photos and stories and memories that people share. She'll get to hear about how amazing he was and about how much he loved God. I'm so thankful for that.