Saturday, December 11, 2010

Less than a week to go....

Ok, so I have gotten several requests to update and I've been slacking. Sorry! It's starting to hit me that I have exactly one week left here!  Sometimes it's hard to express what goes on here in a blog post, because every story requires so much background information about East African culture. One of the concerns I have is that when I get home, everyone will ask me about my experience and will be excited to hear about it, but I will just want to shut down and not talk about it. I am really going to try to be good about sharing stories and pictures, and I'll also try to share what's been going on the last few weeks:
  • It wasn't nearly as hard to be away from home for Thanksgiving as I thought it would be. The directors of our program did an American Thanksgiving celebration to make us feel more at home. The day before Thanksgiving we all got to sign up for kitchens across campus to make food, and many of the American staff cooked for us as well. In addition to the 32 USP students, there were about 50 other American expats at our Thanksgiving. It was so fun to eat a "traditional Thanksgiving meal" sitting on a hill overlooking Mukono Town and sitting directly underneath banana and acacia trees!
  • Thanksgiving weekend I went with a group of friends on a SAFARI! It was definitely one of the coolest experiences of my life! We spent two days riding on the roof of a range rover  through Murchison Falls National Park and got to see gazelles, impalas, African buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and giraffes.
  • I had my last day with my kids at Off-Tu last week. They danced for me as a going away performance, we took tons of pictures, and I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (I read to the kids at the children's center each time I went, and that was their favorite book of the semester) to them several times. It was so sad leaving my kids, knowing that I will never see them again.
  • Just finished my finals today; Ugandan finals are so intense! We are given 3 hours, and a sheet of 6-8 questions covering all the material of the entire semester. We are expected to answer 4 of the questions with at least 4 pages of writing per question. The test is administered  by a proctor the Ugandans call an "invigilator." You are aloud to bring in your registration card and a pen. Nothing else. It's so intense and intimidating. Like a bluebook essay exam in steroids.
  • We leave campus on Sunday to stay in Entebbe for a few days. There we'll debrief and just relax for a few days before taking off bright and early Wednesday morning 

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's My Life

So, they're been no big events going on here lately, but my mom tells me that even the little things of everyday life are interesting (of course she's my mom, and for reasons I don't think I will be able to comprehend unless I have kids, she finds my every move "interesting" :) , so I guess I'll share. Although I've been getting used to the way of life here, it's interesting to reflect on the small aspects of life and think about how different they are from home.

Even simple stuff , like baking cookies, is an adventure here. Last week, I, along with a couple of friends, attempted to bake cookies to take to the kids at Off-Tu Children's Centre. The original recipe we found was for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Well, those ingredients aren't really available here, so we had to make some substitutions.  First we had to use all white sugar instead of brown sugar, not too bad. Next, every store in town was completely out of chocolate, so we decided to nix the chocolate and go for straight peanut butter cookies. That shouldn't matter, right? Regular peanut butter is available here, but we, thinking we were smart, thought we could use Ugandan "gnut paste with special added sim-sim", which is much cheaper, since it would be mixed in, and no one would be able to tell the difference. Ok, that one was a big mistake. Our recipe called for baking soda, but we can only get baking powder here. After googling a substitute between the two, and the majority of our hits being "there is absolutely no substitute for baking soda" (that was just not going to cut it) or "combine baking powder with cream of tartar to make a baking soda substitute" (honestly, if I can't get ahold of baking soda, you expect me to be able to get cream of tartar?) we found a website that suggested using three times as much baking powder as baking soda for a substitute. So that's what we did.  I forgot to mention that there were oats in these cookies. So when we put the dough in the fridge (on a pizza plate, of course!) it reminded me of my mom's uncooked meatloaf. The actual baking was an escapade in and of itself. I've never before seen cookies get lighter in color as they bake! Ok, so they wouldn't pass for American cookies, but they were super sweet, and the kids LOVED them.

Here's something else you wouldn't think of: In Uganda, primary schools take a long break at Christmastime, equivalent to our summer break in the U.S. For my kids at Off-Tu, Friday was their last day of school. They'll come back in February and will start a new school year at that point. For the last day of school, Off-Tu had a graduation ceremony for Top Class (our equivalent of kindergarten) with all the little 5 year olds wore caps and gowns. It was an all day event-- each grade level did songs and readings, and various administrators and teachers made speeches. My host mom from my homestay in Mukono runs a primary school, so I attended their Top graduation as well. Off-Tu puts a huge stress on kids learning English, so their program was entirely in English, while Mother's Care's program was in Luganda. At the end of each of these,we had cake. Cake is a huge deal here: it's only for super-special occasions; everybody watches as about 20 honored people try to hold the knife together and cut the cake. Then they cut it into SUPER small pieces. Everyone gets a bite-size piece, but they all say it's so much and that they cannot each that much sweetness (I have yet to understand this reasoning since most Ugandans use about 3 tablespoons of sugar in a 6 oz. cup of tea).  

This weekend I went with one of the USP staff members and visited a church in Kampala. It was awesome! It was a church with people from a mixture of many cultures, but with an American pastor. I felt like I actually went to church for the first time in three months. On the way back, we stopped at a vegetable market, where I bought a head of broccoli. That was also AMAZING!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rural Home Stay

Life seems to be chugging along here at UCU, although I'm in Africa, I still have a lot of aspects of "normal" college life.  Most of the time it's not super exciting, just the normal reading, writing papers, attending classes, and going into the capital city, Kampala, to waste money on the weekends! I just finished all of my required internship hours at Off-Tu Mission, but I will probably continue to go (not as many hours a week) until at least Thanksgiving. I'll try to give you the highlights of the exciting things I've done lately.

A couple weeks ago (yes, Mom, I know I am not good at updating this thing :) we went on rural home stays where each American students stayed with a Ugandan family in the rural Ugandan bush of Soroti (a district about 5 hours away from Mukono) for the week of October 23- 29. I stayed with the Amurets, an older couple, whose children were all grown, but had several non-related younger people living with them. For that week, I slept in a mud and thatch-roof hut, bathed under the stars, learned some basic phrases in Ateso, and didn't wash my hair  or see another white person for an entire 7 days. Our home, or "compound" was a circle of buildings including a main house made of cement, several huts for sleeping, a cooking hut, and a bathing enclosure with no roof.

Our daily activities consisted of washing clothes by hand, washing dishes outside on the ground (it was literally a pit of mud when I finished) "digging" (hoeing), picking ebolo ( greens) and green grams (kind of like peas, but the pods are black when they're ripe), walking about a half mile through the bush to get water from the bore hole and carrying back a 5 gallon jerrycan of water on top of your head, cooking, and visiting friends of my host family. It was super hard work, but my family took pity on me as a "delicate American."  I  have to say, carrying the water jug on my head is an accomplishment I'm pretty proud of, even if I did have to steady it with my hand. I think the most interesting thing for me to get used to was the sense of time, we never really had a schedule for anything, and just did things when Toto (my host mom) felt like it. This meant "breakfast" was around 1pm, "lunch" at 5 or 6 pm, and "supper" at 11pm. When we went visiting friends, we had no set agenda, and sometimes would just talk with people along the roadside or in the marketplace, or just sit with people for hours, sometimes not saying anything. While we visited friends, and even with my host family, I got to spend a lot of time answering some very interesting questions about life in the United States or trying to clear up some false assumptions about American life. These included " Do you have dirt in America?" ; " Do people there drink water?"; " All of America is one big city"; "There are no plants are animals there, everything is imported." The media sure hasn't helped with African perceptions of the U.S. ! 

Since we were in a different region, the food was different also. In the Mukono District, the local fare consists of rice, beans, and matoke (mashed plantains). In the Soroti District, we ate a lot more meat, and also millet bread. Millet bread is basically millet flour poured into boiling water and stirred to a gummy consistency. It looks kind of like chocolate pudding or brownie batter, tastes like nothing (although my roommate [HEY RACHEL!] thinks it tastes like dirt!), and has the a sandy, grainy, gritty consistency so if you chew it, you end up with the feeling of sand between your teeth.  Did I mention the Ugandans show hospitality by serving their guest  about 4 times as much food as everyone else is eating? Oh, and speaking of eating meat, I got to slaughter THREE chickens. This included cutting off the chicken's head with a knife that I wouldn't consider sharp enough to spread butter, plucking off the feathers, peeling the skin off the feet, and removing the internal organs (only some of them, the" good" stuff is served to the guest of honor, i.e. me).  I really wasn't as squeamish about the chicken as I thought I would be, and by the third one, I was an old pro ;)

Staying in the African bush was one of the hardest weeks of my life, I literally started counting down the hours until I would be picked up, but it was also an awesome experience. I loved my host family and was so sad to leave them. Toto (my host mom) was so spiritually mature and was a great encouragement to me. It was a CRAZY week, but I am so glad to have that experience.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pictures: I need 1,000 words to describe them!

We stopped by the equator on the way to Rwanda

Chapati, fried flat bread that's sold on the street here.

Banana Trees

Some boys in Kampala at Off-Tu's street ministry.

Boys who live at Off-Tu, on our walk home from school.

Jackfruit. I really have no words to describe it, but it's good.

Kampala, where we do street ministry with Off-Tu.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Off-Tu Mission

One of the main reasons I am here in Uganda is to do my junior social work field experience (internship).  I am doing my internship at Off-Tu Mission, which is headed up by Johann and Katherine, a German missionary couple, and employs a team of Ugandan nationals who work along side the German missionaries. I am involved at Off-Tu in three main areas: Off-Tu Academy, Off-Tu Children's Center, and Off-Tu's Urban Children's Ministry Program

I spend time in the mornings at Off-Tu Academy, a school with approx. 170 students in baby- P5 (what Americans would consider pre-school - 5th grade). My time at the school consists of teaching PE each Tuesday morning, teaching Bible stories and verses and having enrichment activities that go along with the Bible story,  teaching American stories and songs, and just getting to know the students during break times. I've also had the opportunity to serve lunch, help conduct a disciplinary meeting, and go on home visits to parents of the school (starting this week I'll actually be doing a lot more of these and over the semester I will get to help create a new intervention program for families of students, which I'm super-excited about!). There's a children's library here on UCU's campus, so I've started taking books to read to the classes I'm given. The Uganda children have oftentimes never seen a storybook, so they LOVE having story time with me.

In the afternoons I usually walk home from school with the 11 children who live at Off-Tu's Children's Center (while they are part of the same mission, the two locations are about a half-mile walk through the banana trees). I spend the afternoons with the kids at the Children's Center, serving them tea, playing games, reading to them, helping them prepare supper, etc. I really enjoy my time there getting to know these children and build relationships with them. The children taken in by Off-Tu mainly come off the streets; some are orphans, some have families that are not able to take care of them.  Julius (my field instructor) and I have decided to augment my schedule so that I will be able to spend more time with the children at the Center. While I enjoy the school, there is no way I could get to know 170 kids between now and December, so I'd really like to invest my time in the 11 who live at the Center. I've already been able to spend one-on-one time with most of the kids, but Julius and I are going to be making my mentoring and counseling with the kids more intentional. I'll also be reading their files to get to know their stories.

The final area I'm involved with is the Urban Children's Ministry Program. Each Tuesday afternoon, a group of Off-Tu workers, volunteers, interns, and some USP students go into Kampala to minister to children living on the streets. Kids end up on the streets for a number of reasons: poverty, abuse, abandonment, child sponsorship scams, but the bottom line is, they all need to be shown Christ's love! We alternate weeks between Retrack, a day home for boys living on the streets, and Naguru Remand Home, a juvenile detention center. When we visit, we put on a program consisting of songs, testimonies, a skit that correlates with the theme of the day, and a Bible lesson. Afterwards se serve snacks and talk with the children. It's been amazing for me to see the thankfulness demonstrated by these children. Each week when they give testimonies, they tell us how thankful they are for what they have-- how convicting for me when I have so much more, and am not anywhere near as thankful! It's also awesome to see the boys who are Christians and the way they are shining lights in these dark places, and the awesome testimonies they have for the other kids to see!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Do in Remembrance of Me

This past weekend was my first weekend without traveling or homestays, and it was the first time I was able to attend worship on campus. To give you a little bit of background, Uganda is a primarily Anglican nation as it was colonized by the British, and the Church of Uganda is actually one of the largest provinces of the Anglican church worldwide. All this to say Uganda Christian University is affiliated with the Church of Uganda, an Anglican body. I had never had much exposure to the Anglican church, all I knew of the America's version, the Episcopal church, and with the issues they have been having in recent years, I was nervous about what I was getting myself into church-wise when coming here.

 I've been to a couple of Anglican functions already, including the "enthronement" of a new bishop, so I have already observed the ceremony and liturgy of the Anglican service. I think I've always had a little bit of a negative conception of liturgical style churches, but I've been really impressed. The words of the responsive readings are so spiritually deep, and I've had the opportunity to talk to some Anglicans here are genuine Christians, believing in Christ's redemptive work, not their own merits, and wholeheartedly seeking after Christ. These people are saying the words of the liturgy from the heart, not just out of instinct or as the result of rote memorization (although if you here the same words every Sunday your whole life, those are definitely factors). Also, for my Faith and Action class we just read some articles about liturgy and the Anglican church, and it's convicted me that even at home in my non-liturgical service, my worship can be simply out of habit, and my heart and mind could be miles away, not there to serve the Lord, learn more about Him, or worship Him.

Sorry for all that background, anyway, I attended campus worship, which is less liturgical and more casual than parish services, for the first time this past Sunday. I know that the Church of Uganda preaches the gospel faithfully, and that while there are some things I disagree with (i.e. baptizing babies), I know my own convictions well enough that I am not going to be swayed, and three or so months isn't going to kill me. I was good until we got to the end of the service, and it was announced that we would be celebrating communion. There are a plethora of different beliefs held about communion: transubstantiation, consubstantiation, saving grace, sanctifying grace, mere symbolism . I had no idea what beliefs the Church of Uganda holds to regarding communion. I was feeling a little uneasy. As people went up to receive communion from the priest and deacons, I was praying about what I should do. On one hand, I don't want to take part in a practice that goes against what I believe to be a faithful interpretation of scripture. On the other hand, from all I know of the Church of Uganda, it's pretty legit, and Paul definitely pushes the concept of unity of the Body of Christ when he writes about communion in 1 Corinthians. I also didn't want to let the fact that the communion process itself (serving the elements, etc) was different than I was used to get in my way, because, honestly, none of us observe communion exactly the same as Jesus and His disciples did in the Upper Room.

Long story short (well, not really short :) I ended up taking communion. So did the majority of USP students, but the two other girls from Cedarville that were there did not. We were able to talk about it afterwards and they were wrestling with a lot of the same thoughts as I was. My first though, as I walked back to my seat was "oh, goodness, this is real wine," followed by "this reminds me of the bourbon chicken at Chuck's," followed by a lot of doubt and prayer. If I was really following in obedience to Christ by taking communion, why would I have doubt? If I really had an attitude of self-examination and celebration of Christ's death and resurrection, then why would I be thinking about Chuck's at all?? The communion issue continued to bother me that day.

Later that afternoon, as I was going devotions, I flipped open Our Daily Bread, and saw the title for that day "Celebrating Together." The scripture for that day was 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.The author was talking about the first Sunday of October, which happens to be World Communion Sunday, and how "it is a time to observe the Lord's Supper with a special awareness of celebrating together with our brothers and sisters and Christ around the globe." How perfect! Reading the devotional really gave me a peace about my decision, and while I am going to look further into the Church of Uganda's beliefs on communion before deciding to do it again, I am really glad I was able to stand together with Christians from another culture. I'd highly encourage you to check out the devotional:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Classes at UCU

It's been about 6 weeks in Uganda now. When I look back, it feels like it's gone fast, but at other times, the days seem to drag by so slowly. I have 72 days left here. I have a countdown in my day planner. Pathetic, I know. I am realizing that I would be more than happy if God's plan for my life involved me living in the United States for the rest of my life :) I miss the most obscure things, too. I miss my speckled mint green countertops. I miss the fall leaves. I miss Alpha Baptist. I miss having clean feet. I miss my American professors. I want to eat sour cream.  I MISS MY WASHING MACHINE! I would give my left lung to go back to this summer and golf with my dad. Don't get me wrong, I am loving it here and it's an awesome adventure.

Classes here are quite the experience. In addition to my junior social work practicum ( I will talk about that more in a later post), I am taking three classes: Faith and Action, East African History 1800- Independence, and East African Politics Since Independence. Faith and Action is taught by an American, the director of the Ugandan Studies Program, and everyone in USP is required to take the class. In Faith and Action, we do a lot of readings, writing,  and discussions pertaining to how Christian should relate to other cultures. It's interesting, especially since USP participants come from a variety of backgrounds and have very different views of how Christianity should be practiced, what missions should like , and even the scope of Christianity/definition of a Christian. The assigned readings and discussions aren't stupendous, but I've had some great discussions with other students one-on-one, and have had some awesome personal Bible studies as a result of the topics brought up in class.

 My other two classes (history and politics) are classes just for American students, so everyone in the classes is a USP student, but not all USP students are required to take these classes. These classes are taught by Ugandan professors. In keeping with the Ugandan teaching style, the classes move at a super-slow pace and give a lot of background information. We're in our 5th week of classes now, and in my politics class, we're still under colonialism, and in my history class, we're up to the kingdoms in East Africa in 1300 A.D.  As Americans, we are left wondering when we'll actually get to material that fits into the scope of the course. I have to keep telling myself that I am still learning things, even if they are not what's listed in the course description. The professors also have a tendency to repeat a sentence 3 or 4 times, or  explain something way more thoroughly than seems necessary. At the same time, sometimes their accents are hard to understand, and we students are left in the dark. The first couple weeks were hard, but I think I'm getting used to the teaching style now.  Also, the material the professors cover in class is pretty much verbatim to the assigned readings, so it's difficult to have enough self-discipline to do my readings. Each of those two classes just have two papers for the whole semester, the longest being 8 pages maximum, and then a cumulative essay test. It's nice not to have a ton of work, but also nerve-wracking, because each assignment really matters! The papers also seem to come all at the same time. Of the four papers for these two classes due all semester, two are due on the same day, Wednesday of this week. AACK!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


It's time for another blog posting, I guess, and so much has happened that I really don't know where to start! Tonight will be my last night with my homestay family. I will miss them, but it will be nice to have running water and to have time to myself in the evenings to get homework done. The family I am staying with has mostly adult children, but there are many children they've taken in or who are neighbors. Mostly, I am going to miss those kids!

We've been here in Uganda a month now, so this weekend USP students along with Honors College students (the students who live with us in the dorms) will be going to Jinja for a retreat. We'll be staying at a resort and we will get to see where the Nile River meets Lake Victoria. It will be a good time to rest, get to know the other students better, and to spend some time alone time with the Lord, but at the same time I feel guilty leaving my home stay, where there's no running water and we eat staple foods each night, and staying at a resort.

I think I've come to realize that the greatest learning I will experience here will not be in my classes taught by Ugandan professors. It will not be in my "Faith and Action" class taught by Americans, where we discuss our responses to Africa as Christians. It will not be in any cross-cultural experience I might have in the next few months. While all those factors might contribute, my greatest learning experience here has been and will continue to be my quiet times in the Word and with God where I search out the scriptures and wrestle with the issues before me on my own. All the students here are "Christians", but there's a very wide spectrum of opinion, more so than I've ever encountered before. I think this was part of God's plan in bringing me here, to cause me to firm up my own beliefs, to know why I believe something, and not just to default to that opinion because that's all I've known. I realize that my opinions (on methods of missions, literal creation, politics, what is necessary to be a Christian, etc) are not going to go through a 180 degree turn while here, and that most likely my currently held opinions will be further cemented. That's a good thing :) I'm also really thankful that the Lord has given me a few friends here who share in similar opinions who I can talk to about this stuff.

In the coming weeks, I will try to blog more on the specifics of my life here, including my internship, campus life, my classes, etc. Until then, strive to be His bondslave!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Home Stay

For the next two weeks, I'm doing a home stay in Mukono, meaning I continue going to my classes and internships during the day (I promise I will post more on those soon!) and at night I stay with a family in the village. I am staying with Godfrey and Faith. They have 5 children, 2 still living at home, an aunt who lives with the family, a couple cousins living with the family, and then some boys from the next door boarding school where Faith teaches who also live with us. Also there is another Uganda Studies Programme student. He's also spending the two weeks with the family.The Ugandan style of life is so different from America, and I know that above all else I learn in these upcoming weeks, the Lord will be teaching my patience, consideration, and maintaining a good attitude.

We have electricity in the home, but no running water. We bathe in a cement hut several yards from the home. We get to bathe with hot water, which is a luxury since I have ice cold showers in the dorms. I love how the Lord can change your circumstances and make you thankful for the small stuff! Our toilet is a whole in the ground, surrounded by a hut and a swarm of flies (remember what I said about God giving me a good attitude?).

So far, each meal has been about the same: meat, matoke (mashed plantains), rice, cooked cabbage, and small, extremely bitter vegetables that resemble shrivled up peas in their appearance that the Ugandans call eggplant. This is also something to be thankful for as it's alot more variety than what we eat on campus. We get fresh fruit between meals, which is awesome! Also, we are served tea steeped in unpasteurized milk, with a layer of butter/cream stuff on top. Now THAT is going to be hard for me to get used to. Apparently, Ugandan custom is to honor the host by eating a TON of food. At meals, we are continually offered more and more,not matter how much we refuse.

The family loves to teach us Ugandan customs. I have to bow to greet my "father" each night, and women sit on mats on the floor to eat. It takes some getting used to, but it's fun to experience another culture's customs. The family also loves to teach me phrases in Luganda (the tribal language in the area I'm staying) and laugh at my mispronunciation. These two weeks will certainly be a learning experience!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Today is the second day of classes at Uganda Christian University, but before talking about classes or campus life, I am going to give you all an overview of our past week as we took a learning trip to Rwanda.

We (32 American students plus 12 Ugandan students who are members of UCU's Honors College) left campus Saturday morning at 5 AM and drove all day, arriving in Kibungo, Rwanda about 7 PM. Customs crossing from Uganda to Rwanda were the most unorganized thing I've ever seen; it was quite an experience! As we drove through the rural, bumpy, mountainous roads, groups of children that saw our buses started running after us and yelling "mzungu!" (the Swahili word for "white man", which is used all over East Africa).  We stayed at an Anglican guest house in Kibungo for 2 nights. On Sunday, our group visited churches in the area. My group visited a church where about 5 parishes came together for the Sunday and all participated with their choirs. They asked us as Americans to sing, give testimonies, and preach. The service was in French, but we had interpreters. It was quite an experience seeing all the Rwandans praise the Lord!

Monday morning we drove into Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. On our way there were again lots of groups of kids yelling "mzungu", but this time, some of them were throwing rocks at our van, and one of our windows shattered. No one was hurt, but we were pretty delayed as we cleaned up all the glass and had to get the window replaced that afternoon. That afternoon we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and learned more about the history, sides, aftermath, and reconciliation of the 1994 genocide. The church has heavily been involved in reconciliation efforts since then and it's amazing to see how peaceful of a nation Rwanda is, even after such recent tragic events. The forgiveness among Rwandans is amazing, and very convicting for me, as I don't think I could ever look at someone who gruesomely killed my family members and choose to forgive them. That night we arrived at a Presbyterian guest house in Kigali where we stayed the next several days.

Tuesday we visited a church memorial and were given a tour by Charles Mugabe, who was 8 years old during the genocide and hid in the church while his family members were slaughtered by Hutu extremists. That afternoon, we had a speaker, a minister who is working in reconciliation and rebuilding the country, and also Christy, a woman working with Food for the Hungry, doing microfinance and business advancement type work with the Rwandans, marketing Rwandan crafts in the US so the Rwandans can make a profit.

Wednesday we visited the Evangelical Friends Mission and heard from a group of Quaker missionaries whose focus is going into communities, doing development work, while at the same time empowering the communities to make such choices on their own. That afternoon we visited an NGO where they have vocational training for Rwandans, as well as an avenue for the women to sell traditional crafts. This place was strictly humanitarian, not a ministry at all, which really bothered me at first. I am continuing to wrestle with this issue, but then I think, if such an agency existed in the US, I would not be opposed to it.

Thursday we went to Amahorro, which means "Peace from Above," a sewing co-operative where women sew together traditional crafts and then market them both in Rwanda and in the US. They had some very beautiful, well-made things. That afternoon we attended the Kigali Trade Expo, where various businesses and artisans were representing their products and services with informational booths. It was very cool that we were in Kigali the week that this was happening, since it was just a one-time event. It turned out to be mainly a time of souvenir shopping, which is not really up my ally, but it was fun nonetheless.

Friday we left  Kigali and drove a few hours to  Kabale, Uganda, where we stayed at the White Horse Inn, a resort in the area. It was nice to relax after such an emotionally draining trip, but at the same time, I felt a bit guilty. That evening we had  group worship in one of the courtyards, and it was great to be able to worship together. We sang some hymns that I haven't heard in years and it was awesome.

Saturday was a time of debriefing in the morning. It was hard for me because I am not the type of person who likes to share their deepest emotions with people I've only known for 2 weeks. That afternoon was spent at Lake Bunyonyi, which at appox. 6,500 ft. is the deepest lake in Uganda. Sunday was 10 straight hours of driving, and now we're back on campus, ready to start the semester. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm here!

After about 36 hours of traveling, I'm here at Uganda Christian University! We arrived in Entebbe yesterday night around 8 and took a 2 hr. coaster (a small bus) ride to UCU. I'm staying in an honors dorm, so I have an American roommate, but there are Ugandan girls across the hall. We walked into our room last night and there was no light bulb in the fixture, so we got to rough it!  Our dorm maid (yep, we're in Africa and our dorm has a maid, cultural standards are certainly different!) said we would get one this morning, but we have yet to get one. We decided that sleeping underneath the mosquito net is kinda like having a canopy bed, and we feel like!

So far it's just been mostly orientation and getting acquainted with the campus, our leaders, etc. This afternoon we met with our social work field instructor who will be overseeing my 6 credit-hour practicum (internship). I think I want to do my internship at CHAIN, an orphanage in the nearby village, but I will get to visit the possible sites I can intern with before making the final call.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Beginning

Here it is, folks, the blog that will hopefully chronicle my great adventure into the wild unknown. So there's not much to say yet, except that my excitement level and my trepidation level are both way up there. But, as nervous/excited as I've been through the whole process of applying and getting to this point, I should be used to that by now :)

 For those of you who don't know, I'll give you some background info on exactly what I'm doing. I'll be participating in a semester long study abroad program (Nope, it's not a missions trip) through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Specifically, I'm participating in the Uganda Studies Program. I'll be spending the next four months in Mukono, Uganda, a city on the coast of Lake Victoria (the Jeopardy song plays here as you google where exactly that is :). I will be taking a few classes at Uganda Christian University along with other international and Ugandan students and living in a dorm there. In addition to my traditional classes, I'll be doing my junior year social work internship.  This is a major part of junior year as a social work major and counts for 6 credit hours. I would be doing this if I were taking a traditional semester in the states, interning in a social service agency, but doing it in Africa will certainly give my internship a distinct flavor! There are several NGOs (non-government organizations) that accept social work interns and that I can choose to intern with over the semester; I will get to tour and interview at each of these agencies when I arrive before deciding exactly where I will be interning. 

So you're probably wondering why on earth I would want to do this.Well, first off, I have been fascinated with other cultures for as long as I can remember and want to learn as much about them as I can. Second, what better way to get my focus off of myself than on living in the Third World?Most importantly, God started leading me to go last September when I first learned of the opportunity through some professors and other students. At first, back in the fall, I was gun-ho about going. Then as the deadline for application approached in February, I started to get apprehensive. I applied, telling the Lord that if I was accepted, I would take that as a sign that He wanted me to go. After being accepted, I was still apprehensive.  I started wondering if my doubts were attacks from the enemy, or if I had mistaken God's voice originally and He was giving me doubts to get me back to where I needed to be. My confirmation was needed in April, and I was more torn than I had ever been. After been told by literally EVERYONE to go, I put in my acceptance. I won't deny that I've been crazy nervous since then, but I truly believe this is where God wants me right now. God has recently opened me up to working in adoption, especially internationally or with children who have HIV/AIDS,working in a pregnancy resource, or even working in a missions/church social work setting. So, in light of that, I'm using this semester as a way to see if working with international orphans, either in a social work or missions setting, is something I could do long-term.

So here's where my adventure really starts. I fly out of Columbus 8/23, connect in Washington D.C. where I meet the rest of the group from the Uganda Studies Programme, connect again in Amsterdam, then land in Entebbe on 8/24. Our first few days will be spend in the capital training and debriefing, then we'll travel to Mukono.

Hopefully I will remember to post highlights of my African life and pictures, too! Feel free to ask me any questions.