Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rushing for the Eucharist

This week, UCU is hosting the All Clergy Conference, an event that is supposed to happen every ten years, though was last held in 1980.  Since such a great amount of time has passed, there is a great deal of excitement among the participants, many of whom seem to still be "on the way coming."

Last night we began the conference with Holy Communion, and Amos had asked me to assist with the distribution, which I am always happy to do.  [As an aside, it also ensured that I could have a seat in Nkoyoyo Hall because many came who had not previously registered, and many "on the way coming" arrived during the service, and not all of them were able to sit, but I digress.]

I happened to be one of the first to go to my station for the distribution, and I am accustomed to the fact that people just come up to receive the Eucharist - there is no row-by-row progression.  However, I was utterly and completely mobbed by these clergy, all with outstretched hands to receive the body and blood of Christ.

At first, I was a bit taken aback; the American in me wanted these people to form some semblance of a line.  They're all clergy, every one of them... don't they know how things should go?  Don't they know that I'll get to them eventually?  

Then it occurred to me - this urgency, this almost desperation to take part of the Eucharist, is entirely appropriate.  I'd say it's how we really should be, actually.  I've never rushed up to a priest to receive the Eucharist, but shouldn't I?  Isn't Jesus' sacrifice something that I should rush to celebrate?  

Anglican decorum and procedure aside, I am deeply humbled by my brothers and sisters, and their eagerness to partake.  I grew up celebrating the Eucharist every week, and when we are in session, we celebrate it twice a week in chapel.  Not everyone has this privilege.  I imagine that when one cannot celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection every week, each service becomes rather special.

I think I need to renew my sense of joy, wonder, and reverence for the Eucharist.

Friday, July 31, 2015

My first visitor!

I had a missionary milestone last week - my first visitor!  While several people have come to Uganda and UCU whom I have either known or come to know, this is the first time that someone has come expressly to visit me!!  

Several friends were in East Africa for a mission, and since they were nearby (geographically speaking; being on the same continent is "close,") one decided to pop over and say hello.  It was a ridiculously quick trip, but it was such a tremendous joy to have someone come, stay with me, and get a glimpse of my life here on campus.

I picked her from the airport Saturday evening, and after supper on the shore of Lake Victoria, which I had chosen in hopes of viewing a gorgeous sunset, but was denied, we then experienced the joy of a Kampala Saturday evening traffic jam on the way to Mukono.  All in all, the journey wasn't bad, but the jam will always be there.

After church on Sunday, we took a walking tour of campus, and ran into several theology students along the way.  I assured her that she would be the talk of evening tea.  In Africa, visitors and hospitality are everything.  Normal life stops when one has a visitor, and hosts make a wonderful fuss over them.

We attended our Sunday evening Eucharist, and during the notices [announcements], the student leader forgot to introduce me to introduce the visitor.  As she was returning to her seat, one student protested, "but we have a visitor!" which I found endearing.  Proper introductions were made at the end of the service, so all was well on that front.

Monday we went to Jinja to visit the Source of the Nile, though one can no longer stand for a photo op at the marker for the actual source, the separation of the River Nile from Lake Victoria, because construction from a new bridge has raised the water level by about a foot.  However, our boat guide maneuvered the boat that we got the photo while she was safely seated in the boat.  After a quick lunch in Jinja town, we then headed back to Mukono to get her bags and return to Entebbe for dinner and then her flight home.

As we say here in Uganda, "you come!"  Though the "my first visitor" title has been awarded, the titles for sequential visitors await you.  :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blogging silence to continue

Hello there!

I know I've been lost (Ugandan for "I haven't seen you") lately; I blame this proposal, along with beginning to wrap up the semester.  It's been a little crazy, though good.  We're making plans for the coming semester, year, and five years, which is both exciting and exhausting.

The good news is that I'm in the home stretch on my proposal - it is due for real on 14 August.  It will be presented to The Powers That Be on 9 September.  Please pray for strength, wisdom, and good sleep as I enter this last leg of this part of the ThD marathon; I'm finding that I need more sleep that I did when I was in my twenties.  Go figure!

This is my mantra for the next few weeks:

Also, I highly recommend this recipe for chocolate banana bread.  For me, it finished baking sooner than the indicated time, but then again, I'm not really sure what temperature my oven is.

I'm trying to keep a list of things to write about when I have a moment that is simultaneously free and lucid.  Until then, love from Uganda.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jungle kitty improvement

Thank you so much for your prayers for Meri!  She slept well last night; I didn't, since she was in the exact middle of the bed, but at least one of us slept.  This morning she was back to her slight limp and favoring the right back leg, which is a HUGE improvement over how she was when she came in last night.  Praise the Lord!  She's eating and drinking like normal, and demanding to be petted, so I'd say she's 90% back to normal.

I didn't want to leave her outside while I was at church, so I stayed close while she did her business outside (which I think answers the question of why nothing's grown in my garden since she's arrived!), and she fairly well mauled my hand when I picked her up to bring her inside.  Having said that, I think she's seen the wisdom in staying close to home the other times I've let her out.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The hard life of a jungle kitty

I think Meri, my inherited cat, has a pretty good life. She has a doting human, food and water, and the campus as her playground. She has a tendency to walk into homes as though they are hers, and she even has a cardboard box that she seriously avoids. 

Meri is my first inside/outside cat, so I'm still learning how to have a real jungle kitty. She did kill one bird in my little compound, and I know she hangs out in her old stomping grounds a lot, as that's where her true jungle kitty can flourish, and she can chase birds and monkeys. I am curious as to how she handles the mongoose. 

This morning I let her out at 4:30 (still trying to teach her what 5 is), and she did not return until about 7:30pm, which is rather unusual for her. Yesterday, I thought she had a slight limp, and tonight, it's much more pronounced. She does walk on her injured leg, but she is making unhappy sounds that I've never heard her make. She never enjoys having her abdomen touched, so it's hard for me to determine whether it's her leg or her abdomen that's causing her pain. 

Please pray for wisdom for me and healing for Meri. There is a vet in Mukono, and he makes house calls, though things are quite basic. On the one hand, it's nice that I don't have to decide whether to get an MRI for the cat, but one the other hand, it's awful knowing there's not a lot I can do for her. 

In the grand scheme of things, this is small, but I would greatly appreciate your prayers. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How to induce a panic attack

Tonight, I'm trying to work on the methodology section of my proposal, which should be straightforward, but isn't terribly fun.  Since tomorrow is 1 July, it will be time to apply to renew my work permit, since that process takes about a month, and my permit expires 31 July.

Last weekend, we were on a faculty strategic planning retreat, and since we were away, I had to ask someone to stay in my flat to care for Meri.  This meant that I had to organize the desk a bit since it's in the guest room.   When I left, it looked lovely, and the retreat was good, even if we did plan for a boat load of work.  I had flashbacks to being at Booz Allen, and used phrases like "Gantt chart" and "low-hanging fruit," which quite honestly appalled me a bit.

To prepare for the work permit reapplication (and procrastinate on the methodology, let's be honest), I needed to get out my appointment letter and Interpol certificate of good conduct.  I haven't written about that process yet, but I will, because bureaucracy is torturous in any country.

So, I started plowing through the pile of paper on my desk looking for the appointment letter and certificate of good conduct.  I knew they were here, because I scanned them.  I knew I hadn't filed them, because I was going to need them fairly soon.  

And as we say here, "all of them were not there."  THIS is how to induce a panic attack; misplace critical documents that could be replaced, but at great cost to one's pride and time.

After some frantic searching and praying, I looked through the bottom drawer of the file cabinet, which conveniently holds the things that really don't have a place to be, and there they were.  Hallelujah.  I don't think I've been so happy to find paper in my life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Other Duties as Assigned: Football Patron

I think this one is all my fault.

In January, I asked the football [soccer] team to be serious about practicing so that we could beat the Catholic seminarians in the annual football match.  I'm all for ecumenism, but all's fair in love and football.

I think some of the students filed this notice away, and a couple months later, they asked me to accompany them on a trip to Namugongo for a friendly sports day.  Namugongo is the site of the Anglican martyr's shrine, as well as an Anglican seminary that trains student at the certificate and diploma [associate's degree] level.  Some of the Namugongo graduates come to us to "upgrade" their papers and get a degree.

That day, though I really didn't want to go on a field trip, since the students had gone to the trouble of organizing themselves and booking a coaster [small bus], so I went.   Namugongo won the volleyball match, and we won the football match, so essentially, it was a draw.  However, the students loved having a member of the faculty with them, and all told, it was a lot of fun.

A few weeks ago, one of the captains of the theology football team asked me to be their patron, because I have "ever been with them."  Keep in mind that one only has to have one experience to "ever be" somewhere, and I think the trip to Namugongo cemented that.  Being a patron entails providing a box of water and some glucose at the end of the match for the team.  While the team likes me to be there, I think it's the water and glucose that they're really looking for.

Theology footballers in day-glow green.

I've learned that there is a position in the Guild [student government] that oversees sports and recreation.  I know this because the first match I attended, the other team didn't show.  The Guild Minister in charge of sports was late, and we had a talk about responsible leadership.  My students were on time.  :)  The second week, the other team came and beat us.  This week, the other came and also beat us.  Perhaps it's time for another pep talk.

What intrigued me is the number of students who were there to watch the matches.  I suppose that if you live on or near campus, and you can't go home on the weekend, one of the things to do is to watch the intramural football games.  Some of the spectators were hecklers, and I could have done without them, but we had a respectable turn-out from theology.  Now to win!