Sunday, November 28, 2010

Harvest Time

Florence, my language teacher, is a single mom, so when the time came for harvesting her ground nuts (peanuts), she asked my family if we would help. As a side note, her brother who was leaving as we arrived, told her later, she was quite the important thing in town since she had Americans harvesting for her.

It happened to be the Saturday that Melissa and Mercy were in town, so we all went, joined by Sandra, the journeyman on our team.

When we arrived, Florence told Sandra and I that we needed head wraps to keep the soil out of our hair, so she tied us up.

Unfortunately, mine slid off after 20 minutes or so.

Florence told my kids which leaves to look for. The reason we needed to distinguish is because cassava and corn are both planted in the field with the ground nuts (in no particular order).

Caleb had a lot of fun. It wasn't like work to him. He took off and every few minutes would come back and yell, "Mom, take a picture of this." And of course, I had to stop, get my camera, which was hanging on a barb-wired fence, and take a picture each time.

Another neighborhood boy helped, too, and I couldn't resist this picture.

The camera went up for a while, and then, when the field was finished, some more pictures were taken of us as we brought the piles to her yard to be dried.

I was carrying the plants in my arms, but Florence insisted we all do it on our heads. Kylie was the first to yell, "ME."

Then it was my turn, and of course, I don't know how to do it without using my hands, like the African women do. I also never thought I'd be doing "field" work in a skirt. When in Rome...

And Doug even tried it, even though it's a "woman" thing.

Of course, Frieda showed us all up with the load she carried

Sandra really wanted to learn how they do it without using their hands.

Doug gave up and just muscled it with his guns.

You can see that by the end, Florence was the only one still wearing her head wrap.

I'm a lot dirtier than I look.

This is a pile of just part of pasture #1. She has two more pastures to be harvested in a couple of weeks.

Since we still had some energy, we removed some of the peanuts from the plant

So they could be dried in the sun

It was a good day for all of us. I'm so glad we could be a blessing to Florence.

Of course, she sent us home with homemade chapattis and two bags of ground nuts for our work. She said it is a custom to send your workers home with part of the harvest. There's that "giving" thing again.

Which one of us was blessed to be a blessing?

I'd say we both were.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two journeys, one camera

I hardly ever ride in a vehicle around town, so when we went to pick up Melissa at the airport, I took my camera to see if I could spy anything interesting around town.

Here's a snapshot of our short journey.

The road outside our gate.

We possibly might have the worst washed-out road in town.

It was a big day for campaigning.

These people were yelling and shouting for their favorite candidate.

This is a sample of a daily thing we see.

People can carry ANYTHING on the back of a bike.

I've seen doors, beds, desks, chickens, pigs, goats, stalks of bananas, 20 foot long pipe, and any type of food that needs to get to market.

Here's another sample: cabbages

The roads always seem impassable. You wonder how all the people and bikes will move so you and your car can get through. Somehow it always works out.

We decided to try to take one of the better roads home so the ride would be smoother part of the way. When we turned, this is what we found.

We were glad we were turning just up ahead.

Then, they turned, too, so we kept following them.

Just so you know, these cows take this journey back and forth every day. The cattle herders take them somewhere to graze, and then they take them back home.

Right after the cows finally turned off, I saw this woman carrying sticks on her head with a baby on her back.

Just like the cows, this is a daily thing that I see. The women here are amazing!

Later on in the day, it was time to travel to the home where our Thanksgiving meal would be.

We had to cross this bridge.

I don't know why this bridge always makes me nervous, but it does.

The only fun thing about the bridge is getting to look off to the right as you drive over.

THIS is Arua's car wash.

The little river that runs under this wooden bridge always has one or more cars down in it, up to the floor boards, getting a scrub.

The day after Thanksgiving, I happened to be in the car with a camera again.

This is as you come into Arua. The number of people walking on the side of the road still amazes me nearly one year later.

This little green door is where I buy eggs (when the hens are laying).

A little monkey lives inside this compound, too, but I've only seen him once, and my kids haven't seen it at all. I wonder if they would let us in for a peek?

Finally, we were back home again, and two guys from the baseball team were waiting at our gate to talk to Doug. While they visited, one of the guys spotted this.

This is what it looked like underneath, so you can see the length better.

About 30 minutes later, George the Vet showed up to doctor Lee's leg.

Our dog cut himself on a sharp piece of ceramic while he was chasing a lizard.

Yes, that is muscle and tendon you are seeing.

The vet comes every day to give Lee two injections and to spray that purple antibiotic on the wound.

Just in case you were wondering, we don't have too many dull moments around here. Something is always going on.


I went to see Florence one day this week for language, and she was telling me how excited she was that it was "grasshopper" season.

She had just bought a bag.

There was vendor after vendor walking down the street selling little bags of live grasshoppers.

Things like that make me smile.

One the way home from picking up Melissa and Mercy at the airport the other day, I saw a field of children catching grasshoppers to take home. Who needs school, when you can be out catching insects, right?

I think I might see teachers out there, too…

Well, I got to see Florences' grasshoppers come full circle.

On Saturday, my family, Melissa, and Mercy went to help her harvest her ground nut field.

After all the hard work was done, Florence wanted to show me the grasshoppers.

She had cooked them in a little bit of water to "preserve" them. She said now they needed to sit in the sun for a few days so they could dry out, she could store them, and then she could eat them when she wanted.

Here they are in the sun.

Can't you see their beady little eyes?

THEN, Florence found out that Mercy likes grasshoppers, so she started pulling off the legs and wings of a few

Then she quickly put them in a frying pan with salt over some hot coals.

Grasshoppers, anyone?

Melissa tried to make them cool enough for Mercy to eat.

Mercy immediately started eating.

Melissa doesn't think they are very appetizing.

But Mercy surely gave us a good show.

First Thanksgiving in Africa

Thanksgiving...what a fun, full day. I got a call earlier in the week from a friend in Kampala. She came to Uganda at the beginning of September to adopt a little girl she had encountered a year ago who had lost both her parents. You probably saw this picture on my blog. This is Melissa, Mercy, and Cody (although, Cody is back in the States now).

Well, Mercy is hers officially, but the Embassy hasn't issued Mercy a visa because of some discrepancy of wording in a medical report vs. the court report. Anyway, she can't leave with Mercy, and I had pre-invited her to Thanksgiving in Arua 2 weeks ago. I was really hoping she could be home with her family in Kansas, but since she can't, she came to celebrate with us.

She arrived on Thursday morning at the airport here. My kids were completely taken with Mercy, and they followed her wherever she went.

I had also told the couple from New Zealand (Sam and Kim from ORA on my blog) that I would watch their 3 children on Thanksgiving while they did some last minute shopping that needed to be done before they fly home next week.

So for lunch, I was feeding my 5, the 3 New Zealand kids, Melissa, and Mercy. Don't think I'm anything special. It was not turkey and dressing, it was…grilled cheese. After the 3 left, I had to cook ONE dish (Praise Jesus!) to take to a Thanksgiving dinner at Sherry's house.

Sherry is an American lady that has lived here for 15 years. She is station manager of the Catholic radio station here, and she built a house here designed for entertaining. I love it! Whenever I'm there, I forget I'm in Africa.

These are the beautiful vineyards out her front door.

All the plants around her house are beautiful.

Her kitchen could fit 60 people in it easily. She even has a DISH WASHER! Her home is hooked up with the ever-running radio station that has enough solar panels to run a small town. She also had a beautiful set up for the adults and the children.

There were 9 Americans that weren't in town, so we were a smaller group this year. She invited an Italian priest who has lived in Arua for 20 years, and they are very good friends. Others attending were my family of 5; A lady named Vikki and her husband who is British and their 3 kids with cute British accents; a man named Jared from California who is married to a beautiful Egyptian lady and their son Enoch; our journeygirl Sandra; and Melissa and Mercy.

Anyway, I was in charge of teaching the children about the holiday and doing a craft.

I had also made a large tree out of construction paper and cut out fall colored leaves.

While the adults wrote what they were thankful for on leaves and taped them onto the tree, I told the children the story of Thanksgiving.

A friend in Baton Rouge had given me a home school activity book on Thanksgiving before I left, and it was the perfect resource.

It was so quiet while I told the story.


That book had 2 great points I brought out because of where we live:

1) The Indians and Pilgrims were two different cultures celebrating together, which kind of resembles our life in Arua. We teach them things and they teach us things.

2) This was not a new tradition. The English used to have feasts of Thanksgiving in their villages to thank God for His mercy.

It was perfect. At point number two, I looked at the three kids who have the British dad and said, "We may celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday, but it's because of your Dad's country that we have it at all."

After I finished a craft with the kids (which was also fun, because the adults actually helped us cut and glue, so everyone was involved),

Doug asked for blessing on our food and lives.

Sherry made turkey in a crock pot, and I loved it because it was juicy. She had made dressing, cranberry jelloish something, mashed potatoes and gravy. She really had the burden of cooking. I just brought broccoli casserole. The other dishes were marinated carrots and some fruit salad with marshmallows.

Speaking of broccoli casserole...we stopped at the post office on the way to her house (which was kind of weird because I kept thinking it should be closed for the holiday, but of course, no one knew it was a special day except us...) to pick up packages.

While we were stopped for the LONG time it takes to pay to pick them up and fill out papers on them, Caleb was crawling around in the back of the car.

We didn't know that.

When we got to Sherry's, Doug lifted up the towel that was over the casserole and found the towel stuck in the casserole and a small size foot print mashed into the 9x13 pyrex.


Oh, how I wish I had thought to take a picture.

Sherry smoothed it out, but it was obvious that bread crumbs weren't on a huge size 5 of it.

Dinner was nice. Dessert was nice. Homemade crusts, homemade everything.

Italian too-strong-for-me coffee with dessert, and the kids watched "Pocahontas" until it was time to leave.

Pretty successful Thanksgiving!

I hope our families back home adjusted well without us as we tried to adjust without them.