March 5, 2007
Dear family and friends,
We’re coming into week 4 here in Jinja, Uganda. While time has gone by very quickly, I feel as if it’s been an eternity since I left home. I’m so much older and wiser! ;-)
To be honest, my first week was very challenging as I was forced to face my own selfishness and misconceptions about life and circumstances.
I just learned that the colors of the Ugandan flag are yellow, black, and red. The black signifies the skin color, the red reminds us that we all have the same blood running through our veins, and the yellow is symbolic of the sun under which we all live.
When we set aside race, social standing, wealth, age etc., we
are the same. We all have the same fears and insecurities. We
all find joy in pretty much the same basic things. We all want
to be better and make something of ourselves. We all want to be
loved and accepted. When we realize this, we are able to
understand, forgive, and love more in the way that God intended,
I believe. God has been teaching me so much about where my
thoughts, dreams and plans need to be and where I need “root”
I want to live in the moment and never look back with regret or
wish things different in any way. My only purpose in life is to
serve my Savior. When I put myself in the center of his will,
my perspective becomes His, my dreams are His, and my heart is
Yesterday, we had the privilege of going with Peter, a 29yo, well educated, Ugandan volunteer from the orphanage, to his village. He’s been trying to have us out for a long time to see his sugar cane plantation and meet his family. They spent the whole morning preparing lunch for us. I was so humbled by their love and hospitality. They greeted us at the door, saying over and over “You are most welcome, please be comfortable, you are most welcome.” We always have to be careful with guys around here, but we’ve come to learn that Peter is engaged to a woman from Wisconsin, so he’s not looking for anything more than friendship from us.
His family prepared a typical Ugandan feast consisting of
Cassava root, Matoke = steamed sweet bananas, Chapati = like
African tortillas, potatoes, rice, chicken soup, beef soup, and
passion juice, among a few other things. They were so
concerned that we ate and drank enough, that we stayed out of
the sun, and that most of all, we were comfortable. It was such
an honor to be with them. Peter’s mama insisted that we were
now her daughters and “please come back to see me.”
We made it back home after a long walk back to the main road and a bumpy, crowded ride on a commuter bus.
I want to take a minute to answer a few questions that have been
asked in different emails from some of you.
We are responsible to shop for and prepare our own meals. Lunch is available, if we choose, at the orphanage, every day except Tuesday. Lunch at the orphanage is often potatoes, matoke, and cassava, with beans, rice or carrots. At the volunteer house, we eat a lot of Peanut butter and jelly, toast and eggs, rice, vegetables, pineapple, and mangos.
Oh, by the way, this “Starbucks girl” drinks instant coffee with boxed milk! ;-)
I am still trying to figure out how to cook with a gas oven! I
guess this is like an extended camping trip. What fun!
When I am with those who have tested positive, I am careful, but
not obsessive. I trust that God will protect me and if I need
to go through a sickness in order to become more like Him, then
I will gladly go through it. The same is true for Malaria. I
take Mefloquin and use bug spray, but I don’t worry too much
beyond that. I welcome the experience, if necessary! Anything
that doesn’t break me will only make me stronger.
I haven’t seen any serious snakes yet, just the common small
snakes we have back home. Yes, the bugs here are a little weird
and sometimes disgusting! I don’t really like cockroaches, but
they aren’t too bad. Geckos are ALL over the place. Whenever
we come home after dusk, after walking through the grass, our
sandals are often wet with what we used to think was dew. Upon
further inspection, we found that this “dew” was actually little
dead bugs! I haven’t yet come upon anything I can’t handle.
I am very intrigued by the local women. They work very hard
only to spend their money on getting their hair done and “Fancy”
clothing. They often live in great poverty, but that doesn’t
matter as long as “they look good.” I walk by every day and see
them sitting in the entryway of their clay and thatched roof
homes, weaving baskets, making beads for necklaces, or cooking
on an open fire. Most look very guarded and you can see a deep
longing in their eyes, but I’ve found that they open up fairly
easily. With every encounter, I try to change their perceptions
and prove that not all Americans are rich/selfish/rude. Last
week, I was hanging out in one of the baby rooms and the mamas
asked me if I had been in town during the naptime break. When I
told them that I had actually gone back and washed some clothes,
they all looked at each other in shock and asked if I really
knew how to wash clothes by hand. I laughed and told them that
I do! I think they respect me a little more now!
Okay, this is way longer than I intended, sorry! Thanks again
for your support, prayers, and letters; they are invaluable to
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!
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