When we first went to visit some of the homes of the children, it reminded me of when we were in rural poor Kenya. The big difference was that Kampala is a huge city so these kids are street savvy living in poverty. The first place we went was apparently a place for the families of the police. When we arrived, we had to talk to the police to get permission to visit the families as they ran into some trouble last time because they didn’t know who they were. Go figure. Once we were “cleared”, we headed through the dirt and trash filled paths to the first home. There were only two homes in the police family area so after that, we didn’t have to worry. The “we” in this includes Nikola, a short termer who has been here for five weeks and is leaving next week, and Dorothy, one of the Hope Alive! mentors. Since Dorothy is Ugandan, that helped in numerous ways through language barriers to talking with the police. It was great to see how the system works with Hope Alive! and their mentors. In talking to Catharine, the mentor system is one of the distinguishing factors of Hope Alive! so it was great to see it first hand.
I thought I’d share a couple stories from that time as well. As we rounded the corner of these houses, this little girl about 3 years old, sees me and starts running towards me, arms open wide. Her mom starts to laugh as I picked her up and held onto her. I didn’t really need to hold her as she had quite the grip on me herself. Soon after, a young boy comes up to me, grabs my hand and goes to his knees. This is a Ugandan custom that shows deep respect. He was so sincere (not to mention SO ADORABLE). I teared up.
I’m trying to think of the best way to describe the similarities and differences of living in Uganda. I truly have little idea yet as I’ve been here less than a week and my week hasn’t been my “normal” life. There’s an American team here so I’ve done a lot with them. They are also painting and adding shelves to my office so I haven’t been able to go in yet. At some point this week, I’ll be having orientation. This means that my time to driving in Kampala is coming nearer. This brings tightness to my stomach. I can’t even put into words what the traffic is like here. How lawless the roads are. How incredibly nonsensical and absolutely insane it is. I’ve still yet to master driving a manual which will make all of that so much worse. I’m scared out of my mind. Another thing is the dirt. The dirt is like a red clay, similar to Lynchburg. The biggest difference here is that the clay is EVERYWHERE. Since there’s no AC in houses, all of our windows are open to the air. Though there are screens for bugs (which somehow didn’t keep a certain mosquito from eating me alive a couple nights ago), it doesn’t keep the dirt out. It’s all over my stuff, clothes, shoes, body, etc. And that’s just the outside of my body. I can also feel it in my ears, nose, mouth, throat and lungs. There’s some funny bits of America here though. Right now, our neighbors are having a huge party. They’re playing music pretty loud. At first, it sounded like they had a traditional African band. Now they’re playing random American songs like “As I Lay Me Down” by Sophie B. Hawkins, a couple country songs and more. The songs they play in grocery stores are about the same. I heard “Good Morning Beautiful” yesterday while shopping.
I'm continuing this note at a local coffee shop called Good African Coffee. FYI, coffee has been a disappointment here however, it's good here (pun SO intended). The lack of internet has been the hardest thing to deal with. I wrote the above at home and then just added it in. I've only had a bit of internet here and none of it on my own computer yet. Ahh, I can FINALLY send an e-mail update to everyone! It's mainly been a quick blog update, check a couple e-mails and then done. It's SO great to finally catch up! You don't realize how much junk e-mail you get until you can't delete it every day. I ordered a strawberry smoothie and it just came. It literally tastes like I'm sucking down some Yoplait strawberry yogurt. Mm. :)
To conclude though. :) Through all of the dirt, bugs, no internet and more, things here are good. I can tell that there's going to be a lot of really hard adjustments, but I also know that I love it. This is EXACTLY where God has me. So, please pray. I know that Satan's going to do His best at getting me to get annoyed at the big and little things. Like, for example, I just got bit by about 20 mosquitoes sitting here.