Sunday, August 29, 2010

A bird in the hand is worth...

Well, I wouldn’t know. No one here uses their hands if they don’t have to. It’s quite amazing.

There are so many times I wish I had had my camera for you.

The head and the back – that’s where it’s at!

I saw a girl walking down the street one day with a bar of soap on her head. I mean, why bother carrying it in your hand when you have extraordinary balancing abilities.

While I was on a motorcycle one day, I drove past a lady carrying a hammer on her head. Just one hammer. This one I did not understand. The tool even comes with a HANDle.

Everyday, I marvel at the women here. They always have a huge tub of HEAVY fruit or vegetables on their head taking them somewhere to sell, and most of the time, a child is also strapped to their back (they aren’t selling the children, just in case you were worried).

Their hands? Not helping them hold the bucket, that’s for sure. They are swinging by their side, completely empty, ready to greet anyone they come in contact with. OR, I have seen a few use their hands to loosen the wrap around their middle to slide the baby from the back to the front and re-tie them there, so the child can nurse while she’s walking to town.

Tell me these ladies don’t impress you. They are the hardest working people I know, and they are amazing.

I know I’ve shown you this picture before, but it’s just a reminder.

This picture I took from far away at student camp last week. A lady was chopping wood…with an ax…with a baby tied to her back. I held my breath every time she threw it over her shoulder.

Did I mention they are hard-working?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The reception, August 14, part II

Remember when I put on heels? I knew it was a bad decision when I slipped them on, but I just couldn't bring myself to wear flip flops with my nice dress, but oh how I wanted to!

After the wedding, Beatrice was so excited to see me. She gave me a hug, asked me if I could help her count the offering money and then we would go.

There was never a thought in her mind to get a piki. We just walked and walked. After about a mile, we reached the location for the reception – a soccer pitch at Arua Public school. One of her friends escorted me to a chair under a tent while she went to take care of duties.

The reception was slated to begin at 2:30, and that is when I arrived. That is also when the decorators started decorating. No joke. (I finally remembered my video camera! But since I already stand out like a sore thumb, I didn't want to stand and make myself more obvious, so the videos have a lot of heads. At least you can hear some of the music)!

There were 500 people sitting in tents watching this for 45 minutes. We were entertained by music and singing, which several people stood up and danced to. Also, we watched as four buffet tables were set up with food. Three men had to carry each pot of enya (cooked, mashed millet) to each table. That stuff weighs a ton! (As a side note, after tasting it at Alice's after Sarah's baptism, I knew I was passing on that dish today).

Finally, the bride and groom drove up at 3:30. And guess what?

The whole wedding party of 50 marched into the reception at the same speed, if not slower, than they had entered the church just four and one half hours earlier. It was quite an entrance! They were dressed so beautifully, it really was quite a show!

After prayers and greetings, the families of the couple got in line to eat at 3:50. I looked across the way at a sign on a tent over there, and it said, "Invited Guests."

I didn't know what the sign over me said, and I was a little nervous. As they were telling people who would eat first, I realized, I was in the mother-of-the-groom's section. (The mother sits on one side with her relatives behind her, and the father is on the complete opposite side with his family.) I had been in a different section, but when "my Kindergarten teacher" showed up, I moved to another section so we could have room to sit together. Neither of us knew we were moving to the mother-of-the groom's section.

We held back and were called with another section at 4:30 to go stand in line to wash our hands, and then stand in line for food. I had forgotten we had to eat with our hands (silly me!). I started watching the bridesmaids, dressed so elegantly, all putting their fingers in their mouths.

Now I remember why it's not a good idea to have long nails.

I got some of every food offered except the enya (the stuff in that big pot in the front). There was rice, beans, matoke, beef or chicken, cabbage, and irish potatoes. Finger food, right?

I was SO thankful for the blaring music the whole time, so that no one could hear me slurping my rice and beans off my fingers.

Then the music stopped…

Thankfully, it was just a break between songs. But I heard enough of the sounds of hundreds of people eating with their fingers in that few seconds, that it was enough to make me happy for overly loud music for the first time in my life.

Bake to the hand washing station…

Cake cutting progressed after this. I had seen 18 cakes up on pedestals,

but those weren't the ones they cut. They cut the 8 or so that were sitting on the table.
We were not called up to get cake. The flower girls brought around a bowl filled with one-bite pieces of cake. You were supposed to take one small square and pass it on to the hundreds of other people waiting for their bit of sugar.

I passed. I didn't want them to run out, and I'm not a big fan of cake anyway.

This is what the girl next to me grabbed - a chunk of icing. Smart girl!

I thought we were nearing the end.

It was 5pm.

Then the bride and groom and their wedding party just walked out of the reception.

I asked what was going on.

I found out they went to change clothes for the gift-giving part.

Of course! Why didn't I think of that?!

For the next thirty minutes, the soccer pitch became a dance floor. They sang ONE song over and over for THIRTY MINUTES!

No lie!

But the people had a great time.

This is me with Beatrice on the left and Karen, the headmistress of "my school" and the groom's step mom on the right. We were waiting for the wedding party to return.

By the end of the thirty minutes, the soccer pitch was REALLY full.

And this lady was at it again.

The wedding party finally returned and lined up for another procession. This one was faster, but they still looked just as stylish as before!

The bride and groom then presented cakes one by one to important people or groups of people as part of a wedding tradition here. The groom's step mom and aunt got the first two, then her parents, priests, places of employment, wedding organizers, bridesmaids, groomsmen, best man, matron of honor, and church. How all the bridesmaids were going to share one cake, I don't know. But I saw how "the church" shared its cake.

Side note: Today (Sunday, Aug 15), at 1pm, I went back up to church to meet Beatrice so I could show her to my house, and there she was, with the whole praise team, cutting cake. Again, it was in one-bite pieces. Do you think they would ever believe it if I told them every guest at a wedding in America gets a WHOLE piece of cake!)

These are some of the gifts I saw laying out in the field.

The bride and groom got the last cake and then gave speeches.

At 5:45, the first gift line forms. There was a line for her family first and then a line for him.

I was blown away.

This is part of the groom's line. My guess is that a village of over 100 people got together and purchased what you can barely see. Several groups of people are carrying sheets of tin over their heads. I'm guessing it's for roofing a house of some sort. It was an amazing sight. (For some reason I forgot I had a video camera again).

These are the girls I stood in the groom's line with. You can see they are bringing brooms and wooden spoons.

After they gave their gifts, they were so excited, they stopped beside the gift table and just danced for a while.

Tables and chairs looked as if they were floating through the air as people carried them on their
heads. There was a dresser with mirrors, a refrigerator, brooms, spoons, boxes and boxes, and if someone didn't have a gift in their hands, they dropped money in a huge bucket..

It was really a sight to see.

The line went on and on and on.

The end.

This is Scovia that I told you about in the Culture Shock post.

Beatrice and I walked one mile back to the church on my incredibly sore feet, and when she went into the church to practice worship songs for Sunday…I flagged a piki and went home!!!

Seven hours later, as long as it was, I was still glad I went.

Congratulations Malique and Jennipher!

Hope you enjoy seeing me on your wedding video!

Wedding Day, August 14, part I

Doug had to transport students out to the student camp, so he was pretty late returning home. In fact, he got home 10 minutes before the wedding was to start. I couldn't leave the kids, so I had to wait for him.

I ran to get in my dress (my hair and make-up were already done) and heels, and then Doug told me he'd drive me to help me get there on time. No piki today!

I got to the church at 11:05 for an 11am wedding. The last wedding I went to, the bride showed up an hour late (on purpose). But this bride was walking down the aisle at 11:15! I sat near the back, and waited to be bored to death.

Not this time!

The bride and all of her wedding party (a mere 28 people) walked down the aisle to the song, "How Great is Our God." I don't know if you remember how slow they walk here for the march down the aisle, but the song went on for a good 10 minutes. I teared up a bunch in those 10
minutes. It was pure heaven to sing praises to my Savior in English and remember how much that song had meant to me on different occasions in the States. I sang it on our last Sunday at Pinelake before I moved to Yoakum. I sang it our first Sunday in Yoakum, and I sang it on a Sunday when I knew God was calling us to missions. All three of those times I had cried, and here I was again.

I'm sure everyone thought I was overcome with the beauty of the bride, but it was actually the beauty of my Bridegroom that had me overcome! How great He is indeed.

Next, we sang, "Forever God is Faithful." Again, I was in praise and worship heaven.

Every word that came out of the pastor's mouth was pre-printed in our 12 page bulletin. When he got to the part about anyone knowing a reason whey these two shouldn't be lawfully married, he ad-libbed a bit and asked FOUR times in different ways: "Are you sure there is no one?" "No one wants to stand and say anything?" Etc. It was a bit much!

There was a lot of clapping. XXXXX

THEN, he asked the couple about the vows they were about to make "in the name of God, who is judge of all and who knows all the secrets of our hearts; therefore, if either of you has a reason why you may not lawfully marry, you must declare it now." After some silence, he asked again… (it was all pre-printed in the bulletin except for the repeated asking).

Before I go on, lets talk about the cameras. There were no hidden cameras at this wedding Six men surrounded the bride and groom. They could not even be seen by the audience. There were three still cameras and three video cameras and two blinding lights facing them and the audience. Every time I blinked I saw spots.

THEN there were two men walking the aisles. One with a flash camera; one with a video camera. I counted 7 flashes on me throughout the service, and I know I was filmed on 7 different occasions, because the blaring light attached to his camera would blind me. I can only imagine what this couple will think when they look at their pictures and view the video. "Who was that white girl at our wedding?"

I thought I was the only one with light colored hair at first until I saw some of the bridesmaids had spray painted spots or streaks of gold in their hair to match their dresses. And when visitors from Kampala were announced, I did see one other light-skinned blonde.

After every "I will," or "I do," or vow said, there was LOTS of clapping, whooping, and hollering. I wish I had a recording of the sound they make, and trying to type it out would do no good. Oh well. I forgot I had video capabilities on my camera because I put it out of my mind after trying to share with you the termite song back in the Spring. It was similar to a football (soccer) match. A lot of the women had shakers, and one lady marched in with her homemade vuvuzela.

Notice "USA" at the top :)

After the rings, the bishop said, "You may embrace your bride. And if you want, you can give her a very light kiss."

Later on, the reverend doing the sermon said the bishop had broken a record. They were the first couple to have kissed in the church. Then he went on for a long part of his sermon to say kissing should only be reserved for marriage, nothing before.

It was 1:00 when communion started. I saw one girl, with a purpose, get up and walk down the center aisle. I thought she must have something to give the bride. She walked up on stage, behind the pulpit, in front of the altar, and turned around to take a picture of the bride and groom taking communion.

THEN I saw 4 other people do the same thing! So now, along with the 6 "wedding photographers," there were 5 other spectators up there, too. It was crazy!

Order returned somewhat as the aisles filled with people to take communion, but as soon as that was over, and the couple was getting prayed over, 6 or so people went up front to photograph the couple kneeling in prayer. AND, since some children playing outside the church, who weren't invited to the wedding couldn't see properly, 15 of them entered in the side door at this point and stood in front of several people to watch from this point on to the end – and no one told them to move, leave, or anything.

One of the things I find hilarious, is that one of the hired photographers ran to a developer in town and had hundreds of pictures made of his two best photos of the couple, and he sold them at the reception for the equivalent of 25 cents a copy. Since the majority of the people do not own cameras, it was the only way they could have a picture memory of this day.

More pictures were taken as the couple signed their marriage license and then the bishop (not a wedding coordinator) told everyone where to stand for the final photograph of couple, best man, and matron of honor. The wedding party (which was announced at the reception as totaling 50) and the parents did not get up for pictures.

They did introduce the groom's step-mother at the end, and when she stood, I finally didn't feel like a stranger anymore. It was Karen, the head mistress at the school where I attend Kindergarten classes.

Oh, if that was only the ending, but it was only 2 o'clock. The reception hadn't even started!

Culture Shock, August 8

This is kind of a weird culture shock experience…

Last Sunday, I was leaving church, and someone that I didn't know ran up to me and told me I was "wanted." It took me a while to get her meaning. She was pointing to another girl whom I didn't know who was standing by the church. The girl by the church was pointing in the window.

My first thought was, "Oh no! The bishop wants to ask me why I'm attending the Lugbara language service."

When I got to the window, Beatrice, the beautiful worship team member who sat by me on my first Sunday, was there smiling.

She said, "I want to give you a wedding invite."

I said, "I didn't know you were getting married!"

"Oh, it's not for me. It's for a friend." she replied.

"Oh, does she know me?"


The church service was starting at this point, and she needed to sing.

"Ok," I said. "Well, I'm leaving with the kids. Do you have it?"

"No. Can you meet me here tomorrow at 4?"


"Ok. Bye."

Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?

So the story goes on. The next day at the church, I arrive at 4. There was a woman's prayer meeting going on, and the bishop thought I was lost, so he sat to visit with me in the back of the church, and he talked awfully loudly. Eventually, one of the ladies came back to tell him his voice was really carrying.

We had an interesting conversation as I asked him some questions about the Church of Uganda.

Thankfully, Beatrice arrived after 15 minutes.

I went to sit with her and her friend Scovia. We talked for the longest time, and had the best conversation! Scovia used to work for Campus Crusade for Christ, and she really knew what she was talking about. She and I had a great talk about some of the practices of the Anglican church, and Beatrice jumped in after a while.

Scovia is in a life group of young marrieds' that has Bible study each week in a different homes. They have gone through The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church. I don't know what they are going through at the moment, but this was my culture shock moment!

On paper, statistically, it says the Lugbara are "unreached," but here I find that some people actually GET IT, and they are studying scripturally relevant material, and going to Bible study regularly. Of course, if all the Lugbara "got it," then Arua would look and act a lot different, but I was still inspired. This was someone I could partner with in ministry. This was someone who not only understands her culture, but can also help me understand it, and how best to approach the people. Shock! Thank you, Jesus.

Beatrice finally got around to pulling out a wedding invitation for two people I've never heard of in my life. Basically, how it works here, is that the bride can hand stacks of invitations to whomever she chooses. In turn, those people can invite whomever they want as well as the bride inviting people as well. Beatrice was on the "Wedding Organization Committee of Arua," so she got a stack to hand out.

Looks like I'm going to a wedding.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blogging, Places of Worship and Christmas Decorations, August 8

I enjoy it when so many of you comment on how you miss reading my blog.
It makes me feel guilty, but I enjoy it ☺
Now that Doug and I are both in language full-time for the first time, our lives look a little different. We seem to need every spare minute to study our hundreds of note cards, translate 1st grade readers, write out scriptures or small stories in our language, and get prepared for the next day of class. Doug and I determine what we want to learn and how we want to learn it, so we have to go to each of our language classes prepared to show them what to teach us. It's an
interesting concept, and it puts a little more pressure on us to be on the ball.
Anyway, since I am a writer at heart, I always have a blog going on in my head. Unfortunately, they haven't been making it on screen lately.
I do want to give you a small snap shot of a church I attended last Sunday. Kylie and I went early in the morning with a lady to a church that starts at 7:30am. This lady works on Sunday, so she has to attend the early service.
We met on our road at 7am, and started trekking off down hills, through pastures, across mud puddles to our destination about a mile or more away.
The church doesn't have lights or electricity, so it was very dark when the service started. The two pastors who were doing readings for that day were positioned at the front of the church, each by a window, so they could see their Bible.
I saw decorations hanging from the ceiling and up front behind the altar, and I whispered that they must have had a wedding at the church the day before.
Silly me. My friend told me they were decorations left up from last Christmas!
It wasn't until 8:15 when there was enough sunlight coming through that I could actually see what I was looking at. Sure enough, there was a banner across the church name at the front saying, "Merry Christmas," in red letters on a gold background.
I knew I was going to like this church.
The song leader wouldn't let the congregation sing anything that sounded like a funeral dirge. At anytime the songs weren't lively enough for her, she stopped everyone, made them start over, and she made sure they sang with gusto.
I was asked to stand and greet everyone, so I did…in Lugbara, and then sat down. My friend said I hadn't said enough, and she made me stand up again, and say some more.
Why didn't I remember that this is a custom in an African church for first time visitors?
I could have had something so wonderful prepared in Lugbara. As it were, all I said was, "I greet you all. My name is Kathryn. I'm from America, but I stay in Arua. Thank you."
Pretty pathetic, huh? The only redeeming quality of it was that it was in Lugbara, and so the congregation loved it and all grinned at me.
The guest preacher for the day saw one lonely white person in the crowd, so every now and then, he would look at me and translate a little about what he was talking about. It was a little
uncomfortable, but nice.
English is nice!

I've been promoted, Aug 6

I went to see the head mistress of the school where we "attend". Doug had his language class at that time, so I went alone.

I asked her opinion about moving to a first or second grade class, and she suggested second grade. I felt so successful.

She told me to talk to the Kindergarten teacher, and then she would also talk to the Kindergarten teacher after I left and then to all the 3rd grade teachers. It just so happens that the kids go on school holiday next week, so they are in the middle of exams right now. What that means is that I'm on school holiday, too.

When I report back on September 6th, I will be in 2nd grade!

Every time the teacher called me to the board in Kindergarten (and yes, that happened more than once), I always knew the answer. I guess I need to be challenged a little more.

I am by no means saying that I understood everything that went on in that class, but the children were only learning 4 to 7 words a day with flash cards, and I think if I'm going to bike to the school with my out-of-shape body huffing and puffing and sweating, I need to learn more than 7 words.

I'll let you know how 2nd grade goes when I'm done with my "holiday."