Monday, July 28, 2008

Starting in Uganda

I don't really know where to start in explaining our trip to Africa. It was incredible. It was heart breaking, overwhelming, inspiring, and exciting. Some days were extremely fast paced and high energy, others were slow and long. We would joke about how the trip was so "bi-polar". It started out in Uganda. I flew into Entebe and met Jason on our 4th anniversary. We stayed in a very nice hotel in Kampala. It over-looked Lake Victoria and had a restaurant that served gourmet food. It was a relaxing and romantic start to my stay in Africa.

View from the hotel

The next day Mark flew in and we "enjoyed" a more typical hotel room. Most hotels we stayed in where small and dark. They had a foam mattress and mosquito nets. The floors and walls were all cement. The bathrooms usually had a toilet with a shower head right next to the toilet. Most of the showers I took involved water getting all over the entire bathroom because it was tiny and there was no shower curtain. Often there was no shower stall; just a drain in the floor.

The day after Mark came in we went to the Entebe Zoo. It was so much fun feeding the monkeys. We came upon a whole bunch of monkeys in the park. At first I was excited to have one come so close as it touched my shoe. Little did I know that a few minutes later, we would be having a popcorn picnic with them.

"Look, a monkey!"

Touching my foot

Sweet little one

There is plenty for everyone!

Popcorn picnic

Playing

video

The next day we went to Kampala where we stayed in a hotel in an area of town that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. In fact I would recommend staying out of Kampala all together. Kampala is the capital of Uganda. It has about a million people and just as many vehicles: cars, buses, and bota botas (motorcycles). There are no traffic laws (can you imagine driving around a big city with no lights or stop signs?) There is also no littering laws so the city is extremely dirty. Crowded, dirty and overwhelming...that is Kampala.

View of Kampala intersection

Even though the city was stressful, the people we met there were amazing. Gordon was a friend that took street kids into his own home and was working on starting an organization for orphans in the city of Jinja. He took us to several churches on Sunday morning where we were the guests of honor. Jason and Mark both "preached" and I said a few words to the congregation (my first of several public speaking events). The second church we attended was the church that Jason had been to several weeks earlier, the one that he mentioned in his emails. It was the church that had really touched him. They were very excited to see Jason again. They had traditional drums and dancing, it was a lot of fun. We felt very welcomed in both churches.

Gordon

The first church we attended (on the left)


Inside the first church


Church members


Inside the second church

Dancing

video

One of the most touching things that we did on the trip was to visit Gordon's projects. The first was the program for orphans. They had just completed the building and they wanted us to see it. The children involved with the program performed several songs for us. There was also a group of girls that did a traditional dance for us. The children were very talented. We felt honored.
The new building

The children greet us

Cha, cha, cha


Mark showing his dancing skills

video

Next we visited a school for poor children. Children have to pay to attend school in Uganda and Rwanda. Those who cannot afford to pay for school do not get to attend. This school was for community children who could not afford to go elsewhere. The school really was special to me because it started at pre-kindergarten age (the age I work with and love). The children were very sweet. I really enjoyed seeing the young ones.

The school building


Teacher workroom and library


Learning Vowels


This classroom was added onto recently.


School kitchen

Students

Jason talking to the students

Listening to the children perform songs and poetry

Cheering for their new soccer ball

Sweet girl

Meeting the crowd

Shaking hands

Visiting Uganda was an experience that I will never forget. There was a lot of things that were difficult to see but it was important for me to see these things. It increased my awareness and understanding of how other people live; the things they have to endure and the difficulties. Nothing is easy in Uganda and it made me so thankful for the comforts that I have. We are spoiled in America. We have so much. I now have a deeper appreciation for my home.

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