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.