Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Availability ends January 4th

The other night I was lying in a comfortable king size bed in my mother's comfortable air conditioned house watching cable with remote in my hand at 11:30pm. I was watching a movie from the 80's and determined to finish it before I fell asleep.

On one commercial break, I wasn't really paying attention, but I looked up at the last minute to see the end of a truck commercial. All I saw, besides the back view of a truck was the words at the bottom of the screen, "Availability ends January 4th."

Satan really hit me with that. I leave for Africa on January 4th, and all of a sudden, everything I already knew became the only thing I could think about. In a couple of weeks I would have no air condition, no comfy bed, and certainly no cable in a comfy house. I would have to explain to my children that sleeping under a mosquito net every night wasn't going to be an option but a necessity.

After a few minutes of heart-racing thoughts and a little panic, I remembered my call. In Virginia, that is what we were told to think about at times like this. I just didn't think it would happen before I landed in Uganda.

God quietly repeated what He has said to me last year. "Kathryn, what are you here on Earth for?"

The panic settled, my heart stopped racing, and I realized that this is going to be a constant battle for a while until I realize that I do not deserve comfort. I was never promised air condition. I don't need a plush American life to exist.

Yep, I'll be working on my selfishness awhile.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Craziness, but not about running

We arrived at my parent's house on Friday, December 11, and unpacked all 8 suitcases before going to bed. In addition, we RE-packed three of them, so that certain "Africa" stuff could be out of the way.

My sister and her three boys came to visit us for Christmas, so we have limited room for all our junk to be spread out. We had planned to take 5 suitcases, 5 rolling duffels, and 5 Action Packer trunks to Africa with us when we go to Uganda, but I'm hoping we can get away with a lot less. I'll know after we crate.

We were supposed to crate yesterday (Tuesday), but last Friday when we arrived, we changed our crating date.

After a phone call, we realized our batteries and inverter for our solar power and our fridge and freezer had not been delivered to our storage shed while we were gone. We really needed those things BEFORE we crated, seeing as how they need to go in the box to Africa, too.

We changed our crating date to this Friday, the 18th, the last possible date the company had. Praise God they had one!

Our batteries came in yesterday, but nothing else.

Tomorrow morning, the crating company is coming in the morning to pick up all our belongings and take them to San Antonio. We will drive there early Friday to watch/help them pack our 700 cubic feet of space.

This afternoon, Doug was on the phone with lots of people. He was so kind and didn't act frustrated at all (I'm glad he was the one making the calls), and the companies, which have had the order for some time, are going to re-route our belongings directly to San Antonio. They are supposed to make it in time. I'll let you know.

Doug and I spent Sunday in Houston buying all the last minute things we needed. We waited until this late in the game so the expiration dates would be later. Not that it really matters. I'm still going to eat out of a jar of peanut butter from the United States, even if the expiration date has come and gone. And that goes for the brownie mixes and chocolate chips I bought too. When it comes to stuff like that, I'll listen to my stomach over the FDA any day.

We spent the afternoon today in our storage shed, one last time, cramming things into boxes. When Friday comes, and if it doesn't all fit, we'll have to decide what to leave in the States, but I'm guessing it won't be the peanut butter. Jif, anyone?

Craziness leads to more craziness

Some of you asked about my final physical exam.

The first time I ran around the gym 19 times in 12 minutes. As you recall, this is not normal for me. I don't run.

Anyway, I was so worried about not being able to beat my time (although I really don't think anything happens to you if you don't). Doug would tell you I wasn't worried enough because I didn't really work out between fitness test #1 and fitness test #2. I walked a few miles with ladies in the evenings, but I didn't do it that often.

Fitness test #2 arrived on a cold night. I even think it was after "Lasagna night" in the cafeteria, but I can't be sure.

I tried to run with the same people who "pushed" me the first time, but they weren't going to run until after I needed to have my kids in bed.

I found a new group full of fast guys under 30 (except for Doug and L. :), and we took off. I pushed pretty hard to keep up, but they lapped me terribly. I only walked twice to catch my breath because I knew I had this crazy record of mine to beat. And because of some small miracle, I actually ran 21 laps this time.

Never mind the fact that I couldn't breath without wheezing for a good three hours - I did it!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving and other "bird" matters

Thanksgiving was nice to have off and just spend time with family.

The morning started with the kids having pillow fights with Heather and Mr. Lynn.

We had a big meal in the cafeteria,

and then at 3pm, a lot of people participated in a 5K Turkey Trot our recreation team put together. I cheered the runners and walkers on as they came by my quad (like Doug and Kylie), but I stayed close to home because Karis and Caleb were taking naps.

Washington DC, the next day, was a terribly cold trip, but fun nonetheless. I took a picture of Caleb's face when the subway started. It was priceless. He loved the speed and the tunnel.

We went to an area of town where we could find people in our people group. Well, I knew no Lugbara would be there, but we did share with people from Togo, Mali, and Senegal in their shops. We also talked with some people on the street and helped one man pick up the leaves he was sweeping.

We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant and again, ate with our fingers.

The food was good and it was nice to be some place warm. Caleb was turning purple and needed to defrost.

We would take the injera bread (a spongy substance that didn't feel like bread at all) under the food, plus some extra they gave us, and use it as a scooper for the food.

After lunch, we took a detour to the "mall" so the kids could see the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

When we got out of the metro tunnel, the wind hit us hard. The journeygirls we were with had seen everything in DC before except Lincoln's memorial, so we walked there. Looking back, that was a bad decision. WAY too far (past Washington Monument, WWII memorial, and the reflection pool - which was drained for some reason - see picture)

with tired, cold kids, but nevertheless, we saw it. I let everyone else walk up the steps while I stayed with our borrowed stroller.

I was able to talk with people and take at least 5 pictures for people.

Back in Union Station, I tried to start a conversation with a man to share with him, but he told me his life was none of my business, and he wanted me to leave him alone. After that, I was pretty much done for the day :) , so Doug ordered some food to go, so the kids could eat dinner on the bus, and we loaded up for the ride home.

Yesterday, we had our first day of "Affinity Week." We don't spend the week with the other 83 people; just our Sub-Saharan Affinity. There are 19 of us. We spend the whole week in class together with our Stateside Liasons, a couple who spent many years in Africa, and we talk about only "Africa things."

We have exit interviews this week and have to turn in our exit papers. Next week we wind down and come home! But I still have lots of assignments to finish, so I can't be dreaming about that just yet.

Today at 3:30, they demonstrated how to kill, pluck, and prepare a chicken. Do you think I took the kids? Yes, I did. Might as well get exposed here with familiar people we love.

(I've spared you the rest)

Unfortunately, the lady killing the bird could not pull hard enough on the neck, so someone had to run over with a knife to assist.

I will say this, plucking a chicken is TONS easier than I thought it would be. After the head was gone, the bird was immersed in extremely hot water for 30 seconds, and after that, the feathers just "wiped off." It was pretty amazing.

Yes, I said, "Amazing." The kids thought it was pretty cool, too.

Playing catch-up on news

The next week after this, was kind of slow, in comparison. The highlight was our Tuesday night African fellowship. Everyone going to the Sub-Saharan African Affinity left the training center right after class and headed to a church in town. We went into the fellowship hall where we could hang out and use the kitchen to cook. With the help of several ladies in town who all used to live in Africa, we put together quite a meal.

I was in charge of cooking the chapatis, which was fine with me. A chapati is a type of flat bread that the people of India brought with them when they came to Uganda. It served as our "utensil" for the night (no silverware allowed), so we made a lot of them. I was no good at rolling them out the special way, so I volunteered to man the pan. Doug and some other girls cleaned out a pumpkin and cut it up. It was then brought to the kitchen to be boiled and mashed. Then they cut up a pineapple. At the same time, we had coconut beans (red beans with coconut milk in them), greens, rice, chicken curry, "toe," (a West African dish I can do without) and ugali cooking.