Thursday, September 23, 2010

What happens when you are robbed

Please know that this is not a personal testimony or you would have gotten a prayer request notice from me.

This occurred a few hundred yards behind our house on Tuesday night. I heard the aftermath - that's how I knew about it. In fact, my whole section of the city "heard" about it.

Around 1:30 in the morning, I heard moaning.

Pitiful moaning. Sad moaning. Heart-breaking moaning.

Then more moaning.

Then crying out.

It got closer and closer, like it was in my back yard.

Then it faded back again.

Then it sounded like it was in my side yard.

Then my front yard.

You get the picture.

It went on and on for over an hour.

If you want to know anything that happens around an African village or town at night - ask a night watchman.


Apparently, a lady returned from disco dancing to find everything in her house gone, including 300,000 shillings (about $150) she had earned from braiding women's hair.

Her mother and sisters have all died, and her father has moved in with her. He was there when the burglary happened.

He's blind.

This lady had the saddest moan I had ever heard. It was so repetitive that there was no more than 2 seconds of silence between each one. It was so sad.

She had been robbed just two weeks ago says the watchman, but I must have been out of town because I would have remembered that moan. I don't know how she had anything left to take, except money, but the robbers obviously knew her "night watchman" was blind and that she wasn't home, so she looked like an easy target.

The watchman said she came moaning down the hill behind my house, then turned around and went back to her house. She then returned behind my house, around my house, and down the road in front of my house.

The watchman said she walked past my house and gave her last worldly possessions (a cell phone and 1000 shillings (50 cents)) to a neighbor to hold, and she wondered off moaning into the night.

I don't know if she was going to moan her way all the way to the police station or just to the point where she got her sanity back.

I just want you to appreciate your local law enforcement. You can call them. They come to you. And you can moan in the privacy of your own home.

Theft is a terrible thing.

We can all be robbed so easily by the thief that wants all we are and have.

"The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I have come that you may life and have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Can I get an award?

I got a call from my friend Scoviah on a Thursday saying she wanted to meet me Friday to give me a wedding invitation for a wedding on that Saturday. She had been forgetting to call me.

We tried to plan for a "hand over" on Friday, but she said she was one of the "workers" of the wedding and she would be at the "saloon" all day Friday. I smiled. I wonder if they all call a hair salon a "saloon."

She was frustrated that I couldn't "pick" it, but asked hesitantly if my family would come to the wedding without an invitation in hand.

Sure, why not? Of course, I knew my kids weren't really up for a 7-hour wedding, so I let her know they probably wouldn't make it.

A 10:00am wedding on a rainy day. Should I go? Should I stay in my warm, dry home? Well, as you can imagine, I wasn't "feeling it," but I decided to go anyway.

Because of the mold growing on the walls in Doug's and my bedroom, Doug and I have both been sick for about three weeks. This day was no different. In the privacy of my home, I could walk around with Kleenex stuck up my nose, but somehow I didn't think it would be
appropriate for a wedding "look." So I went prepared.

Lots of Kleenexes.

But this time, I also went prepared in other ways that I had somehow forgone last time.

I'm a quick learner.

First; no heels. This was going to be a flip-flop wedding for me. Don't cringe, all you people in America – this is Africa.

I took water, snack foods, lipstick, pen, paper, wet wipes (I needed something to wipe the mud off my flip flop feet), toilet paper, my Bible, money, a gift, a Tide stick, my cell, camera, and hand

If you remember my last wedding, this was MUCH improvement.

I felt like a boy scout. I was so prepared. And my bag was so full, but it felt good to have all my comforts close to me.

I called a piki driver I use regularly to take me to the wedding, and I arrived fashionably late at 10:20. I was so glad I did. The bride decided she didn't need to arrive until 11:00.

As I was walking in at 10:20, the master of ceremonies was saying, "The bride and groom told me that if 7 people were in the church, we should start. And since we are five times that, let's start."

We were only about 20, but oh well. The rain delayed more people than just me.

Every bride and groom hires an MC for their wedding to entertain the crowd, provide humor, and help the couple relax at the wedding and the reception. For example, when the bride later walked in to the song "Showers of blessing," he said something corny like, "We had the
blessing of rain, and now we have the blessing of Jackline."

The female pastor walked in shortly after me, all the way up to the front, so I wasn't feeling too bad about being late.

After the master of ceremonies said we were starting, the squealing, hollering, and excitement sounds started. 10 of the 20 people in the audience at this point were all mundus. The groom works at the Anglican radio station with a lot of Germans, and they all came.

The "noise" did not come from any of us. There seemed to be a designated "screamer." I don't know if these people are paid or not. She was not dressed like she was going to a wedding. She entered the side door with about 15 neighborhood kids who just stood and stared while she hollered and waved a tree branch around.

The number of still cameras (4) and video cameras (2) was considerably less than the last wedding. And I think I only had my picture taken twice in the audience, and I was even further up front.

At 10:50, the MC gets a tambourine to play along with the band, and in walks the groom and his friends, swaying slowly in unison. By this time the church was pretty full.

At 11:00, the bride and her bridesmaids come in led by the flower girls, ring bearer, and cow/goat tail-wavers (I have no idea what this means, but I'll try to find out).

I finally saw Scoviah. She was the matron of honor.

At 11:25, the priest asked the groom to lift the bride's veil and make sure it was actually the girl he wanted to marry, and then he said a blessing over them.

I guess the blessing wasn't too important because all the cameras turned to take pictures of the audience at this point.

On page 9 of 16 in the program, the power went out.

No lights on a cloudy day.

No music except for drums, and we were in the middle of a song.

No one skipped a beat. We kept singing.

The scriptures were yelled from the front.

After 10 minutes or so, the generator was fired up outside, and the microphones eventually started working again.

I got tickled at 2 white boys who showed up at noon (2 hours late). They are new to town, but being late didn't bother them at all. They came down front to my row. I guess the ushers thought they had to seat all the mundus together.

One part that is new to weddings for me is the priest focusing on taking only one wife. Polygomy is a real problem here, so the church tries to teach against it as much as possible.

At 1:10, we finally started singing the recessional. Eight minutes later, I joined the slow recessional, and I saw my friend, Beatrice. She quickly handed me the invitation that Scoviah had given her. I guess it's a really big deal for them to have an invitation in hand.

She led me through a field behind the church as a "short cut" to the reception. It's a good thing I had the wet wipes for my feet. Beatrice and I both had to use them when we finally arrived.

At 1:45, I was seated in the "invited guests" section, right behind the reserved area for the radio station employees. When my German friends showed up, they motioned me to come forward to visit, and they told the owner of the station that I would be sitting with them.

Front row seat.

The decorating started.

The bride's friends and family from her village showed up for the reception in the back of a large truck. I didn't see them at the wedding.

At 2:45, the bride and groom arrived.

There were prayers and introductions (even the "saloonist" was introduced) and Beatrice participated in a skit about marriage for everyone.

Tried to enter a great video here, but maybe I'll get it loaded when I get to Kampala this weekend.

We ate at 3:30.

The bite-size cake pieces were passed around at 4:15, while the bride and groom went to change their outfits for the cake-giving

and their gift - getting. Yes, this chicken was brought to the front for the bride and groom.

The gift-giving started at 4:45, and as much fun as I was having watching everyone dance and having fun, my nose was STILL running.

I was pretty miserable.

I hugged Scoviah's neck, told my German friends goodbye, and told Beatrice I was catching a piki home.

I returned to my mold-infested home, put on pajamas, took an anti-histamine, and started cooking dinner.

I don't know why I always feel like I deserve an award after I return home from a wedding marathon.

Chocolate anyone?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Giving People

I'm sure I have yet to mention how giving these people are. In fact, at lunch today, Kylie said, "Who do you keep getting all this food from?"

Since is was African food, Kylie knew I hadn't purchased it, and thankfully, with Alice around, I don't have to know how to cook it either.

Today, we had pumpkin that Florence, my language teacher, had given me.

Yesterday, we had Matoke (a banana shaped food that tastes like an irish potato) that Alice, our house worker brought us from her garden. And we had two oranges (the oranges here are green - funny) from Florence.

Last week, we had peanut sauce that Alice ground with a grounder (jiki) she brought from her house to use for me. She carried it all the way down the hill with her baby on her back. (I should have looked to see if it was on her head.)

This picture is of Beatrice. She is one of the worship leaders at the church where I go to hear the Lugbara service. She is also the one who invited me to that wedding I posted a few weeks ago.

Anyway, one day after church, she asked me to come back after all the services were over so she could follow me to my house. She wanted to give my children clothes she had bought them.

At this point, she had only seen them in church twice, and she didn't know any of their names, much less their sizes.

Nevertheless, she did pretty good. Caleb liked his muscle shirt, Karis really liked her new dress, and even though Kylie's clothes were a little tight for her, she was very gracious.

This particular day, we took Beatrice home only to find she was locked out with the wrong key, so she stayed with us an extra 5 hours, and we took her out to student camp with us that day. She is a precious, smart young woman. She graduates from University in December, and in February, she is going on a scholarship to the United Kingdom for a year to get her Masters. She has already told me that when she returns, she wants my children in her wedding...that will be a fun story!

This is Florence showing Kylie which beans to pick in her garden. I go to language about 4 times a week, and I usually leave with some kind of food.



She says it is common in her culture, when you need greens, you just walk to any garden you see, and pick some. She has strangers in her garden all the time...and she doesn't get angry.

They just give and give.

Selfishness really isn't a quality I see in people around here. If you have enough, you make sure everyone else around you does too. It reminds me of the New Testament church in the book of Acts.

Our neighbors on one side are from Sudan. The children have learned some Lugbara in school, and they speak a little English, except for one of their sons who is hearing impaired, but the rest of the family speaks Arabic.

Kylie spends a lot of afternoons across the fence with Sarah, the girl in maroon. They make dishes out of clay, they wash the family's real dishes, help start fires for cooking, and fill pots with water from jeri cans.

I would really love to minister to the mother, but I can't speak her language. I've passed avocados over the fence, but other than that, we just sit and smile at each other. They are from the Dinka tribe, which means they are unusually tall. The mom is easily 7 feet. You can see how Sarah towers over Kylie already.

This is Ayiko (that means "happy"). He is Florence's son. He and Caleb are pretty good friends, and he's usually playing around the house during my language class, so I get to see him every day.

This is a video of "giving" at the most recent wedding I attended - last weekend. A few of the ladies just have flat stones on their head. That is what they are giving to the bride and groom for their house. You can see chairs, boxes, and money being given. But more than anything, can you see the JOY in which they are giving everything?

Kylie's 8th birthday, August 21

We happened to be in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for Kylie's 8th birthday. Our car needed to get worked on, so we drove the 7 hours down - our car survived - and then it went in the shop. Of course, it wasn't ready by the time we needed to return, so we borrowed another car to return in. 3 hours into the trip back, the air conditioner went out in that car. Good times!

An employee of the Baptist Mission of Uganda drove our car back to us a week later and came to help us hook up our solar power, but that's another story.

The second picture was taken at the top of the hill at the Baptist Mission. It really is a beautiful view, but just like Victoria Falls, there is no railing around these high cliff-like places. My children are sitting next to a 15 - foot drop off, catching HUGE snails.

The lady standing there is Jan Skuza, a colleague of ours in Kampala. We stayed with her and her husband Lynn for two nights and were there when we woke up for the birth day.

Jan's husband, Lynn, got up early and made french toast and eggs, and Jan made homemade breakfast sausage for the birthday breakfast. It was a real treat. My kids love the Skuza's!

Caleb wanted to let you know how old his sister was.

Another item of business to take care of in Kampala was getting Karis a haircut. She wanted it short, so Jan told us a place we should go.

I don't think the lady was used to cutting hair of someone who is so short. She didn't put Karis in a booster seat, which made it hard for her to see.

The result was a lop-sided hair cut, but thankfully, Karis doesn't care, and she looks pretty cute anyway.

Kylie wanted pizza for her birthday, but the Italian place she likes was closed down for a month while the owners visited family.

Her next choice was a hamburger.

I have yet to have a good hamburger in African (I've only tried three), so I was a little skeptical.

We went to an "American" style restaurant for the burger, and it was ok, but not great. It's hard for me to love a burger that is dry, missing mustard, and no pickles in sight...but that's just me.

We also had ice cream while we were in Kampala and got to re-stock on some grocery items we wanted. Plus, we also found some TV series that were for sale on DVD, so we bought a few to have an American media "fix." It's also a great way to wind down the day after studying language.

Other than that, the last exciting thing for the kids was seeing this baby baboon on the side of the road on our return. We usually spot elephants or hippos as we near the national park, but on our way down, we could only faintly see one elephant through the trees, and on the way back - nada. (That's Spanish - not Lugbara, for anyone who was confused).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Student Camp

Leadership training for some key students from 5 surrounding boarding schools took place for 6 days in August during their one week break from school. First of all, I thought it was amazing, that these students would give up their holiday for leadership camp, but I think they were all glad they did.

The camp was held at a beautiful location 30 minutes outside of Arua at a boarding school called Ushindi.

What a view from the top of one hill looking towards the next.

These girls are laughing as Gordon (a volunteer) wiggle his ears. That was a new sight for them.

Kylie washing her dishes after lunch.

Look at the amount of firewood kept on hand to keep fires burning in and outside the kitchen. No ovens or stoves at this school (or any school, for that matter).

Doug (and Kylie) sitting with a lot of the boys waiting for afternoon Bible study.

Caleb had such fun learning "magic tricks" from Arnold, performed with grass and rocks.

Arnold is a great story teller, and he had these kids enthralled.

Grace is a beautiful girl, inside and out. She let Kylie and Joanna decorate her hair with flowers and never complained a bit.

This man made a lot of impromptu songs throughout the day. The song he was singing here was about Caleb.

What a blessing all these students were to us.
Six people from Winterset, Iowa, and one man from Florida came to help the girls on our team and our team leader's family "do" camp. My family had the benefit of enjoying everyone's company, building relationships with students, and Doug taught one session on being a godly man.

This is a video of Arnold trying to teach Kylie how to make some music. I have some videos of Caleb's magic tricks, and I'm having trouble sending them to my mom, so I might have to post them here for her, and then all of you will get to see.