Friday, July 31, 2009

Goodbye Froggies!

Sandra: Can you help me find a frog auntie??
Me: Huh? (thinking to myself…did I just hear her correctly!)
Sandra: Can you help me find a frog?
Me: (hum…I guess I did hear her right) Why are you looking for a frog?
Sandra: I need it for school
Me: (humm…she doesn’t seem like the kid that would put a frog in someones shirt…) Why?
Sandra: I need it for class
Me: Did your teacher ask you to bring it?
Sandra: Yes, we are doing an experiment tomorrow and every student has to bring a frog
Me: Okay…what happens if you don’t find one?
Sandra: We will get a punishment
Me: And you only have one day to find it??
Sandra: Yes…

Mind you…its dark at this point…BUT…it’s not an impossible task…

You see we have a little frog that lives in our training room…He’s often found in the sink or in the water purifier tank or in the jerry can we use to fetch water…so I knew right where to go first…

SO we get there…and we look in Mr. Froggy’s hiding spots and there was NO little frog…

Humm..where to look next…well lets go to the water tap…

Off we went, flashlights in hand…standing by the water tap and what do I see but a baby frog…at this point both Sandra and I realize that neither one of us have anything to catch this frog with…who at this point is quite aware that we are trying to catch him and starts hopping all over the place.

We eventually caught him and carried him back to my house where we put him in a plastic bottle and carried him back to Sandra’s house to await his fate tomorrow in class…

So here I am...back in the family group and I get a tap on the back…

“Auntie, Can you help me find a frog?”

Okay…I'm thinking…what happened to the first one…did he die? Did he escape?? When I turn around and see that Zam Zam is now the one asking for help, not Sandra…

At this point, I already know why she needs one and I accept the challenge AGAIN.

This time we went straight to the water tap…and guess what…NO FROGS!

My second thought….I wonder if the Institute Frog has wandered back inside…in the sink, in the water purifier or in the jerry can?

So inside we go and guess what…there was my little frog friend…sitting in the sink right where he usually is...waiting to watch me brush my teeth...

So tonight I managed to catch not one, but two frogs, and it had to be a GOd thing because I have never caught a frog in my entire life until tonight....all I have to say is...

Goodbye my little frog friends!

Tomorrow you will meet your fate BUT tomorrow our water purifier will be free from all your little frog germs!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Offer...

Uncle Keith: "How's the new place?"

Me: "Well...Its not bad...there is a larger insect presence in this one compared to the old one I was in though..."

Uncle Keith: "It is the oldest house we have at the institute..."

Me: "Well...its okay...don't worry about it"

Uncle Keith: "If the bats in the roof are too noisy and you can't sleep we can always hire someone to come and get rid of them"

Me: "Okay...I will let you know"

Me (thinking to myself): "The bats are fine BUT can we hire someone to get rid of the guy with the large speakers who drives around town and announces the Muslim call to worship at 5am...cause he's the one that is really disturbing my sleep!"

Ahh...Uganda...You gotta love it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Love In Actions and In Truth

1Jn 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Mama Jane came back to New Hope yesterday (Sunday) after being gone for one week when her father passed away.

I was so excited to see her at church that when it was over I went straight to her and gave her a bear hug.

Mama Jane is the best bear hugger around these parts and wow it was great!

I have seen her two more times since then and she has bear hugged me both times then too…

But the bear hug is not the only thing…each time she smiles at me…says my name and then in her best English says “my daughter, I love you!”

The “I love you” started at her father’s burial ceremony BUT the “my daughter” started yesterday, the first time I saw her after her father’s burial…it is a sweet friendship that we have…one that is not based on words…but based on action.

I wish I could understand more of her words, but for now, I am enjoying the smiles, the hugs, the laughter, and just spending time with her.

It’s a special bond…one that is only possible with Jesus.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Water Hole Frenzy

So on Wednesday our water tap ran dry....apparently we haven't had enough rain to keep up with the water demand so...

Wednesday - Dry
Thursday - Dry
Friday - Dry
Saturday - Dry

By Saturday night we were trying to squeeze every drip of water from our drinking filters but we were getting THIRSTY!

Each of us was able to get one cup full of water by Saturday night and that was it...

By this point we were asking what we would do today (Sunday) without any water to drink...I think some desperation was starting to set in.

In addition to the water system, many of our light bulbs were out and so not only were we out of water but we were also out of light...not a pretty situation when the night lighting scares away the large roaches that frequent the latrines at night...

But I digress...

Saturday night we got a good rain...and by 9am this morning the water tap was alive and well!

Needless to say, everyone on the compound grabbed every jerry can we could find to fill them up...we filled up about 10 cans and refilled all three of our drinking water filters so when we run dry again, hopefully we wont be in the mess we were in this past week!

Now all we need are lights and we're golden!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Are you feeling spicy??

How would you respond if you were sitting around a large table and someone asked you that question??

Believe it or not I was asked that question tonight by one of the girls in my family group…but it was innocent enough…

You see…there are these little red peppers that the boys in the family have been daring people to eat…they are no bigger than half an inch and are bright red…pretty much the smallest pepper I have ever seen. When you ask the kids what kind of pepper it is, they just laugh and say it is a pepper!

So the first night I simply watched as they challenged Uncle Cody to put two of the pepper seeds in his posho and beans. He did and he was sweating! He said his lips were on fire and his throat was burning…this coming from a Texan, I believed that the peppers must be awfully hot.

The second night I watched as Cody once again took the pepper challenge. Complaining because he accidentally touched his eye after touching the pepper…not a really wise move.

By night three my curiosity was killing me…I had to try it…so as Cody once again dished out two seeds to mix into his beans, I took my fork and put one seed on it…then ate it! I didn’t mix it into anything just went cold turkey and you know what I found out?? Cody has some seriously WEAK taste buds! It was GOOD!

Since then the kids have been asking me if I will put the whole pepper in my posho…So I do…pretty much every night now and it makes posho and beans WAY more tolerable!

SO you see…the "do you feel spicy?" question…was actually a funny question…

Cody asked her to clarify what she said and well here is what she said:

The pepper was spicy and Auntie Lena ate the pepper so now Auntie is Spicy!

Don’t you just love how kids reason!?

Good night…from one “Spicy” missionary

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Hope Institute

How can I describe it??

I can't's indescribable...but it is awesome!

Some of my fellow Ugandan classmates were trying to describe the Institute the other day...these are some of their descriptions (Imagine them being said in a Ugandan accent!

  • It's like having open heart surgery without any anesthesia
  • It's like having a wound that you didn't know you had and someone has pointed it out to you and starting to pick at it and scrap off the scab
  • It's invaluable - worth all the time and the money
  • It's like they are cutting your heart in half, laying it on the table and then putting it back together
  • It's good
  • It's challenging me
  • It will transform you and free won't ever be the same

And for me...I just say ditto and am watching God work in this place. I think He knew I needed to be here and it is amazing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mama Jane

Mama Jane….ahh…I love her!

She works in the kitchen here at the New Hope Institute.

She is an older woman…how old I am not quite sure…not old by US standards but old by Ugandan standards for sure….Anyways…our interactions are so sweet.

Why do I love her...I'm not sure...I just do! She gives the best bear hugs…and for some reason we have taken to each other…strange since we really don’t understand what each other are saying…we speak totally different languages and so the extent of our conversations are:

"How are you?"
"I am fine."
"How are you?"
"I am fine"

at that point we bear hug each other and smile. Most of the time I have spent with her is just sitting down next her in the kitchen. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with her…just sitting…not saying anything but spending time with her…

Today was different, she didn’t come to work…which is not like Mama Jane at all…

I found out later, that her father in law died last night and was being buried today. No one knows if he was a Christian or not…which made the event a sad one indeed.

So I went to the funeral ceremony…I went straight to Mama Jane and gave her a bear hug…knowing that I could only communicate my sympathy that way…I embraced her tightly for a good 2 or 3 minutes…the simple conversation that transpired was sweet…

Mama Jane: how are you?
Me: I’m fine…how are you?
Mama Jane: I’m fine…
Me: I’m sorry
Mama Jane (in her best English she could muster): My daddy dead
Me: yes…I know...I'm sorry
Me: I love you
Mama Jane: I love you

That’s it…

You see...I had to be there…There was no choice to stay home...because here in Uganda, it's all about relationships…it’s all about spending time with people…just sitting…not even talking necessarily but just spending time. I have spent time with her over the last few weeks…and she knows that I love her…even in this short 3 weeks of time that I have known her.

Pray for her…pray for her family…

The one thing that stood out to me during my entire time at Mama Janes home…is that there was not one tear shed. Not one person that came to the ceremony cried…not when they sang, not when the pastor spoke, not when they carried the casket to the backyard, not when they lowered it into the newly dug hole, not when they filled back the dirt, not ever…

Now I am one who understands the whole “not gonna cry” mentality…But there are two times that you are pretty much guaranteed to see me cry…during sappy movies and during funerals…so this response was one that I just didn’t and still don’t understand…

I can’t wait until I know more lugandan and I can ask Mama Jane about it…

For now…please pray for her and pray that as I sit with her, I can continue to be a good friend to my dear sister in the Lord.

Wide Awake...

I don't know why but I am WIDE awake...I have actually been wide awake three nights in a row now and it is really starting to bug me!

Why am I awake...

Could it be the large glass of water that I drank right before going to bed...the one you drink when you are in the states that doesn't matter because if you do wake up in the middle of the night you can sleepily walk to the bathroom, not think twice, and then sleepily walk back to bed...

That same drink here poses a different midnight response....its the thought of...well if I do get up...I have to get dressed first, then I have to find the flashlight and the roll of toilet paper, then I actually have to go outside and shine that light in a dark pit latrine...hope that no flying bug in the latrine likes light, take care of business, find my way back home, then get ready for bed all over again? Lets face that time you are 100% awake and there is little hope of getting back to sleep any time soon...

Could it be the mosquito net that caves in around you while you sleep...the one that makes you feel a little claustrophobic even when you don't struggle with claustrophobia??

Could it be the sound of the bat family living directly above you?? You know...the one that swarms the attic and makes strange squeaking noises?? Or all the noise of the outside world...the strange new bug noises, the owls, the crickets that seem 100 times louder here then they do in the city of LA.

Could it be the thoughts of all I have to do in class.... reading, working, relationships, language learning??

What could it be??

Who knows! All I know is that I can't sleep and it is frustrating me to no end!

Monday, July 20, 2009

My NEW Fam!

So as I mentioned...I am the newest member of the Ebenezer family here at New Hope...

We do chores together, have nightly devotions and worship, dinner and just hang out. I attempt to help with homework but being that I have been out of high school for awhile my poor kids aren't get much help from me :(

Anyways...Friday night we just hung out and took silly are a few pics so you get an idea of where I am and the family I am a part of!

Zam Zam is the one on my right...Please continue to pray for her. I found out that she is not yet a Christian so she is not only struggling with the loss of her sister but she is doing it apart from God.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Wow...I almost couldn't believe my eyes this week when I got my finance report and saw that I am at 98% on my monthly funding!

It is so amazing to see how God provides!

Thank you all who contribute to this ministry in Uganda on a monthly basis! I could not be here without all of your love and support!


If you are a new donor, know that you are much appreciated! I brought all of my thank you cards with me and as soon as I figure out how the Ugandan postal service works, thank you notes will be in the mail to you!

Thank you again so very much!

I can't believe only 2% is left to be raised! If you want to contribute...just go to: to sign up for a re-occurring payment.

And once again...THANK YOU!

Friday, July 17, 2009


As with any massacre there are always remnants left behind...

This morning I had about 15 dead ants that had managed to crawl into my bedroom before meeting their demise...Along with a few live ones...that immediately joined their dead cousins...

Just how big is a HUGE African ant...well...

1. they are big enough to see from across the room
2. they are big enough to crunch when you step on them
3. and well...if they would walk slower I am sure you would probably see them laughing at you as they take over your home!

Here's a visual...just in case you were wondering...

The Conquering of My Outdoor Shower

I think I have officially conquered! And let me tell you…I think that my $6 shower bag ranks number one in the best purchase I have EVER made!

Here are my adventures with the shower!

  1. 7am – walk to the water pipe and fill my shower bag up
  2. Place it by the side of my house and wait…
  3. Around 3pm carry the water bag to the outdoor shower
  4. Place my left foot on the 2 inch concrete ledge and my right foot against the wall…all while holding my 40lb water bag with one hand and the wall with my other
  5. Regain balance and hang the bag onto the two nails sticking out of the side of my house
  6. Gather soap, shampoo, and towel from inside the house and proceed back outside
  7. Enjoy my WARM (yes...WARM) shower in the afternoon breeze!
  8. Collect the soap, shampoo, and towel and return them inside
  9. Climb up onto the shower wall…careful not to slip now that the cement is wet and take down the trusty shower bag
  10. Place it inside the house for another day
  11. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon as a non-smelly / non-sticky human

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Housewarming Party

Mind you, I use the term housewarming and party in very, VERY, very loose terms!

Let me start from the beginning...

I moved yesterday to a new hut. I was actually content and very pleased with my original hut but was asked to move since my neighbors had 8 people in the hut next to mine and were sharing 6 twin sized beds.

My hut was the logical one for them to move into since the 6 kids could live in their original hut and their parents could live in mine.

So with a little bit of hesitancy I said yes.

Lets just say the last 24 hours have been interesting.

My new hut...while it looks like and is laid out exactly the same as my old one, has a few shortcomings...

Because most of the day it is in direct sunlight, the shower door and the front door don't close quite right...resulting in many visitors.

I managed, with some bug spray and a broom to get rid of the inhabitants of the hut before moving in and settled in for the night.

When I woke...I had a new lizard friend crawling the wall of my bedroom...turns out one of my screens also has a hole so each morning I may have some new little "friends" that call my hut home.

I went on with my morning like usual...Sitting in the institute classes...but this morning was rained...and it rained HARD! No big deal right??


When I got home I found a housewarming party waiting for was more of a surprise know the kind when you really don't want a surprise party but someone decided you needed one anyway??

I opened my front door and there were thousands, yes...thousands of HUGE black ants... The source?? My door frame...apparently that is their home and all the rain disturbed them...

Armed again, once more, with a can of bug spray and a broom, I started my attack...spray, sweep, step on, spray, sweep, step!

It took about 30 minutes, half a can of bug spray, and the death of my push broom before I think I got them all out of the hut, off of the walls, and dead on the front porch!

So there you have it...A housewarming party turned massacre in one short afternoon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pray for Zam Zam

As I mentioned before, I have been placed in a family group here at New Hope.

I was told that the girls are much harder to get to know and that they will not let you befriend them easily...I didn't find that to be true with my new friend Zam Zam.

She was the first person to run up and hug me when I got to the family site, she sat next to me at worship time, she served me dinner, she came to my house friday morning to greet me before I left for my weekend in Mbarara, and she was the first to run over to my home when she heard I returned on Sunday evening.

She is so sweet!

Yesterday, Auntie Florence (the Ebenezer house mother) told me that Zam Zam's sister died suddenly. Her sister was just 17 and lived in a village 2 hours from where we were staying. Apparently she felt sick yesterday morning and by the time she arrived to the hospital she had already passed away.

Zam Zam went immediately and they held the burial the same day as her death. Of course, Zam Zam is struggling with this and very upset.

Please pray for her and please pray that I would know how to comfort her in her time of sadness.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alfred and Faith's Wedding!

I have known Faith for a few years now and she is such a sweet friend to me. She is the one who taught me how to say "I'm going to beat you" in Lugandan, as well as "I'm going to pinch you" and "I'm going to kick you"....we really did love each other...we were just two very competitive Skipbo players :)

Either way...She was married this weekend to Alfred and I had the opportunity to attend.

I traveled to Western Uganda - which was quite a boda-boda, one taxi, one bus and about 9 hours later Joseline and I finally arrived and Faith was soooo excited to see me there that she was screaming and jumping up and down. I think she woke up all her bridesmaids and her uncle because of it!

The day of the wedding, Faith had me doing all of the toe and finger nail painting (french tip, I might add)...quite humorous in and of itself if you know anything about my finger painting abilities :)

The wedding was scheduled for 11am but in true Ugandan fashion it started at 12:30. It was great fun!

Here are some of the pictures from the day!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Home

Here are a few pictures of my new home at New Hope.
My house:
My room:

and my outdoor shower…which I conquered by the way…more to come on that subject a little later on =)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Slashing 101

First off let me announce that I am officially apart of a family here at New Hope...I belong to the Ebenezer Family which has approx 21 kids. As part of the family, I will be fellowshipping with them, doing devotions with them, and working alongside of them in their fields.

As part of our work today, I learned how to slash. We will be planting maize in the fields and so the first task is clearing the field of the 4 ft weeds that are currently calling that land their home.

Let me first say...slashing is HARD work!

What is it you may ask??

Well...basically, you get a huge knife with a kind of looks like it could be a machette but it is bent on the end kind of like a golf club and you swing it back and forth to cut away all the grass. I did it for about 30 minutes and I was EXHAUSTED! I walked away not only sweaty but with 2 new blisters as well.

I have decided a few things based on this new experience...
  1. If Ugandans played baseball or golf...they would be AMAZING at it...just based on the skills they possess swinging around the slashers!
  2. Ugandans have stamina that I have NEVER had
  3. Ugandans are WAY stronger than I am...arms and backs!
  4. God wasnt kidding when he told Adam he would eat of the land through painful toil and the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17-19)
  5. Weed wackers were an amazing invention, even if they do clog up every few ft!
  6. We should be thankful for all the hard work that goes into preparing all those foods that we take for granted...

So for now...I will retreat as a tired, sore, and newly blistered muzungu...

Keep tuned for more of my adventures in Uganda as the days and weeks stretch on!

Shipping Address - July 5 to Nov 20, 2009

Let me just say, I like mail!

That being said...

You can send me snail mail in addition to emails....just know that letters can easily take three or more weeks to get here from the US.

You can also send packages but they MUST be sent ONLY by airmail, as ground can easily take 6 months to a year to get! Airmailed packages typically take 3-4 weeks (though this is Africa, and at times can be longer, or at times surprisingly quick!).

The address for both packages and letters is below but please note that I will only be receiving mail at this address through November 20th so all mail will need to arrive before that date to ensure that I receive it:

New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family
Lena Pira
P.O. Box 16
Luweero, Uganda
East Africa

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I have roommates!

Haha…I use the word roommate loosely!

Rather than sharing my home with a roommate of a human variety, I am sharing with a family of bats. I was told they were living there when I arrived but I didn’t not see or hear them until about 3:30 AM when my jet-lag had gotten the best of me and had me wide awake from 3 to 5 this morning.

How did I figure it out?? Well…it was pretty easy…they squeek!

Needless to say…it didn’t help me get back to sleep quickly…thank goodness for my trusty ipod that offers hours of entertainment in the wee hours of the morning!

22 Stories...

The first couple days of the institute that I am in, here in Luwero, we are all sharing our life stories...Today it took 4 hours to hear the first 7 stories...

It is so amazing to hear how God has been so faithful to everyone even through life events that could and should crush us. Today I heard stories of people who were abused, of people whose fathers abandoned them, of people whose children and siblings were captured by LRA soldiers and have never been heard from again, people who were addicts, people who have lost husbands, and wives....So many stories...

The coolest thing is...God knows all of their stories and He has woven our lives together in this exact moment in time. We are all here for a purpose....To be used by God to minister to the people of Uganda.

I can't wait to hear more stories tomorrow!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adventures with an outdoor shower…

I haven’t quite mastered the art of shower taking here…BUT that is not to say that I did not have any successes with my first outdoor shower yesterday…My successes you may ask?

  1. I was able to fill my solar shower bag without getting myself totally wet in the process.
  2. The solar shower bag actually did get my water semi-warm!
  3. I managed to actually get myself semi-clean!

Yeah! Three successes in one day! Its amazing!!

My goals for today's outdoor shower you may ask??

Good Question…

To find a better (higher) place to hang that shower bag so that gravity and the water flow are on my side! and…if goal one is accomplished…my second goal would be to get my self COMPLETELY clean this time

…Ahhh…what an adventure!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Goodbye LA!

Goodbye everyone!

Today is the day!
I can't believe it is already here!

I can't believe my packing is done! Boy what a task that was!! It's hard to move and not take a shipping container with you!!

Pray that all my bags are under the max weight!
They are heavy and well...I'm not so sure the scale I used was that reliable :(

I love you all! Keep in touch!!!!