Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Craziness in October??!!

Living in Africa brings a whole new set of challenges…not just how to cope with new living situations, new friends and new social cues BUT also how to stay connected with those that you left back home. Being my first year here I really wanted to be able to send out Christmas Cards…something that I have never really been all that good at stateside let alone abroad! So one October afternoon good old Shutterfly sends me an email…”half off Christmas cards if you order in October…”

I think to myself…hum…a picture card would be nice to send out!
Half off…that’s awesome!
Free shipping…humm?? I’m close to 100% certain that doesn’t mean to Africa….
Humm…if I do this, how will I get them here in time?
If I do this, how will get them all back!?

And then it hits me….I know people from Cali coming here in November!
So I spend an entire night uploading two photos to Shutterfly
Spend another couple hours actually getting the order to be shipped to my friends house who in turn agreed to stick them in his luggage on his way to Uganda!

So here they come…beginning of November and I have a crazy amount of Christmas cards to write before Nov. 21st rolls around and the cards need to be carried back on someone else’s luggage headed stateside…

Can I just tell you how strange it is to write “Merry Christmas” on a card before you have celebrated veterans day or thanksgiving!

SO now, here it is…thanksgiving day and I can officially say that all of my Christmas cards are done and on their way to the United States in two different checked bags…Lets hope luggage doesn’t get lost and that all arrive to their final locations in one piece…

Lets also hope that all of the recipients appreciate all the craziness that actually had to go into the planning and execution of getting 400 Christmas cards from the US to Uganda and then back to the US before Christmas day…

Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night J

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NHICF Graduation

It's here...the end of a 5 month adventure and the beginning of a new one.

I can't believe that the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family is already over, it went WAY to fast!

I am going to miss all my new family here BUT the good news is that they are only a 2 hour drive from where I will be in Ggaba!! Yeah for us!

Here are some pictures from graduation day!

The NHICF Graduating Class

Me and Auntie Grace

Prayers and Blessings

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lena and Lena

Wow...this has been a busy last two weeks!! Sorry for the stretch of time between posts!

These last two weeks we had a birth, a graduation, I went on a house hunt, I moved, and much much more!

Here is one of the things that happened in the craziness of the last 10 days...Baby Mercy Lena was born!

Here is a picture of the me with my namesake and her parents (Teddy and Sam)...She is soooo cute! She is also the first baby I have ever had named after me...

I have to say, its strange to have someone named after you feel as if you have some kind of responsibility to them or for them, it makes me wonder as if God feels the same way about us as we take on his name "Christian", literally "little Christ"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Latrine, How I love thee...

Well...maybe not LOVE but I have definitely come to appreciate the latrine much more than I used to before. Today I was thinking about it...and is what I like about the latrine...

1. It's far from my house...meaning that if I stink it up, it really doesn't matter because I can't smell it from the house.

2. I can never clog it...meaning that I can use as much TP as I want and never have to worry if the thing will flush

3. The more I use it the more my aim improves

4. I don't have to clean a dirty toilet bowl

5. I don't have to use a toilet seat cover and wonder who was the last person to sit on this before me. I know its rather random, but today, I'm feeling rather there it is, consider yourself edumacated...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...the original...

So I know most Americans, including me, has at one point in time had a "Seinfeld moment" or a "Friends moment"

You know the are doing something and then all of a sudden you realize you are doing the exact same thing or experiencing the exact same situation as one of your favorite characters on TV...

Well today I had a "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment"...A first for me, I promise!

How did this moment come about...

Well...some of you may know that I LOVE, absolutely LOVE dark chocolate...personally, milk chocolate isn't even worth eating because it just has no flavor compared to a nice piece of dark chocolate...

Well...Uganda isn't really a dark chocolate kind of place...and well...I tried a few of the milk chocolate bars that were made in Kenya and ugghhh...They had to add so much wax to make it not melt on the shelf that it was more like eating a candlestick than a piece of chocolate...

I pretty much gave up hope of ever eating a good piece of chocolate again until about 2 months ago when I saw an imported bar of dark chocolate with hazelnuts! I thought I may have been having a dream...wondering how in the world such a wonderful thing had ever found its way into the store...I was about to pinch myself when all of a sudden I noticed the price on that fabulous piece of candy...

10,500 shillings!

That's about $5.50...

Ohhh...I cant tell you how long I stood there with my mouth wide would have been better to never see such a thing than to see it and realize there was NO way you could EVER justify a $5.50 candy bar!

I was SOOOO very sad! Every time I went shopping I would slowly walk by the candy, looking at it...imagining how it tasted, looking at the price, hoping that by some small chance it would have reduced greatly...but no taunted me!!

Kind of like Charlie now that I think about it...the poor kid wanted to buy just one bar and it was near impossible for him to justify such a purchase when he didn't even have money to feed his family...

So, I sadly put the chocolate bar out of mind and moved on with life...

So here comes the weekend...My friend Tiff had a birthday on Friday and her and her hubby wanted a weekend away from the kids (they have 5!)...

As a birthday present to her, I babysat the kids for them...We had pillow fights, hosted a going away party, baked cookies, had pedicures, watched movies, cooked meals....

Overall, a great as we welcomed Tal and Tiff home with a home cooked Mexican food meal Tiffany pulled out a thank you gift for taking care of the kids...

AND YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was the dark chocolate with hazelnut candy bar...I was besides myself with joy!

This afternoon I thought about a sweet afternoon thought and well of course it had to include a bite of my wonderful surprise...

I excitedly walked out of class towards my house, went to my room, looked at the bar and imagined how wonderful it was going to taste, then slowly, without ripping the paper, peeled away the outer wrapper and the silver lining. I looked at it, smelled it...ahhh...Just like Charlie!

Then I broke off a few squares, and carefully folded the silver liner and wrapper back. I slowly put it into my mouth and let it was AMAZING! No nasty waxy taste...just pure dark chocolate that melts in your mouth! I am hoping I can make it last for at least 2 weeks...I cant wait to eat a square or two tomorrow...

So yes...Its possible to be like Charlie and have chocolate moments....Hopefully you wont judge me to severely for my excitement for a little chocolate pleasure :)

Did I mention that it was AMAZING!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Language Lull

Yes...its true, without a steady and consistant language helper I have officially reached my language lull...

I can greet and say a few other things BUT mostly...Im stuck!

Since some of you have been wondering what I is what is rattling around in my head at the present moment (but just know that it is 7am for my brain still isn't fully functional yet :)

Nkwagala nyo: I love you very much
Oli otya: How are you?
Wasuze otya: How did you spend the night?
Ossibye otya: How has been your day?
Bulungi: Good
Jende: Fine
Jabale Cyo: Very Well Done
Calle: Okay
Umm: Yes
Nedda: No
Weebale: Thank You
Ogenda wa?: Where are you going?
Awaka: Home
Abeeka bali batya?: How are the people at your home?
Oyugero oluzungu?: Do you speak English?
Mirembe: Peace
Ssubi: Hope
Yesu: Jesus
Katonda: God
Mukwano gwange: My friend
Gwe: You
Amazzi: water
Wonge: Yes please/what?

Enjoy learning some Luganda words :) I'll keep practicing too :) haha!

Monday, November 9, 2009

And the drama continues...

with my Visa that is...

Last week (Friday) I was in Kampala...well not totally in Kampala but in a village at about 1:30 I caught a boda boda on my way to the main road into the city

at about 2...the boda boda breaks down

5 minutes later, a motor taxi full to the brim passes me...I jump in...even though there are 21 people crammed into a 14 passenger car...

around 2:30 I get into the capital

I hop out, find the nearest boda boda and bargain for a ride to the Immigration office

I hop onto the boda...for the 10 minute ride and 2 minutes into it a sudden rainstorm arrives out of the blue...

I continue on the ride...realizing that looking smart and presentable is now out of the question and focus on the important task of keeping my paperwork dry.

around 2:45 I arrive, dripping wet, looking like I bathed with all my clothes on at Immigration

I walk into office 2...they take one look at me and say "oh sorry!"

I sit...hoping to dry off before I am called...

5 minutes later I shuffle my soggy self in front of the immigration officer...she takes one look at my paperwork and sends me to room 1.

I arrive at room 1, and then am told to go to window 1.

Window 1 hands me my passport and tells me to go to window 5.

I go to window 5 who writes a charge slip and tells me to go back into town to a bank I have never been to before.

I hail yet another boda boda, bargain and ride to the bank...still wet but at least not sopping.

I go to the first line, then realize I should be in the third line..

I finally pay BUT here's the catch...I have to wait 2 1/2 hours for the receipt or come back tomorrow...

Do they not know I live 2 hours away!? AND that in 2 1/2 hours Immigration will be closed until Monday morning...?!

Saturday rolls around...

After a required morning session at a local children's center, I ride into town with some friends...

The bank (open from 9-1pm)

The time...12:30

I bargain again with a boda boda, hop on and get to the bank at 12:45

I stand in line until 12:55

I got the receipt...!!!

Now only if Immigration was open on Saturday!

My conclusion...
No wonder there are so many illegal aliens...being legal is way to much work!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I've reached it...

What you may ask....

Well in the states I could very much say that most of my life...(minus a few years) I was a "love to eat" kind of person...

BUT...I think the impossible has happened...

The transition has come full surface and I am now switching teams and joining the "eat to live" crowd.

Yes, it is sad...

BUT its true.

Today I realized that I lost the love to eat. How did my new found revelation take place??

Here are the events that lead me to my conclusion:
  • 4 months in Uganda, 4 months of PBandJ for much for variety!
  • 1 week at the end of every month...hard bread for my PBandJ breakfast...month old bread really doesn't preserve well here, even if it is in a refrigerator!
  • Picking random ants out of the Jam on my PBandJ...after someone forgets to put it back on after using it!

BUT have to say...those things...while contributing factors still didn't push me over the edge...

What did...

Today as I was spreading my PBandJ onto my hard piece of month old bread good old Auntie Mary makes the statement...this bread is no good...Not uncommon being that we eat old hard bread all the time BUT after her statement she proceeded to stick her plain bread under my nose and YUCK! It smelled SO very DISGUSTING!

The sad thing is...we all continued to rub PBandJ all over the bread...I admit I put a little extra jelly then usual and we all sat down...

We all took bites...we all said the bread tasted bad...but we stated the obvious..."We are going to eat it anyways huh?!" and so that is how, my PBandJ slowly disappeared from my plate today and I was confronted with the very sad fact that I no longer eat for enjoyment BUT rather I eat to survive...

Its sad BUT its true...

Pray for me...and for the loaf of bread we will get tomorrow...I have to admit though...From now on I am not gonna smell it...I am better off not knowing just how bad it is!

Enjoy some eggs and bacon for me :]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Uncle Godfrey!

Last night was one of my most favorite and memorable nights with Ebenezer!

It was SOOO fun!

Why you ask??

Well it was Uncle Godfrey's birthday...and while we call him uncle he is actually our family father so it was a day to celebrate indeed.

Aunt Flo and I did a little scheming the last few weeks and with the kids help we had a fabulous surprise party for him.

The kids all wrote birthday letters and encouragement cards to him.

Aunt Flo, along with some of our kids, prepared some of his favorite foods.

I made two cakes and the kids helped wrap Aunt Flo's present for him.

It was a night of laughs, smiles, good food, family, gifts, and fun...

Here are a few of my favorite moments:

Juliet prepares the rice

Wonder and Benjamin prepare the chapati

Time to eat!


Birthday Cards!

A gift...what could it be?!

" I got Blue!" New perfume for our Uncle

Sampling the goods...

Time for Cake!