Sunday, November 23, 2014

The world's most ethnically diverse country may surprise you

I thought this was interesting... "Uganda has the highest ethnic diversity rating" in the world.  The Daily Mail (UK) has a similar article, though they said South Korea is the least ethnically diverse.  The Post lumps the Koreas together, which I think is probably a bit more accurate (who goes to North Korea?).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful for fairly uneventful travel

It’s 4:37 am, Thursday, and I’ve been awake for two hours.  I think Thursday will be a long day.  I had planned to go to the office and be somewhat productive in the morning, but I think I’ll just stop by and say hello, then do more sorting and organizing because I shall be a bear of little brain.

I am so grateful for a fairly uneventful trip back to Uganda.  When I checked in online, I couldn’t change my seat for the Amsterdam-Entebbe leg, and the gate agent at Dulles had to “go check on something,” which is only slightly unnerving to hear.  He told me that the system was having problems, and I could change my seat at Schiphol.  Fine.  After an uneventful flight to Amsterdam (save the lack of movies that appeal to me), I found that the self-help terminal to be not at all helpful, and I had to see an agent.  So I went to the agent at the transfer desk, who referred me to other desk agents, even giving me a numbered ticket as one would receive at the DMV.  That agent was able to fix things, after telling me that something was wrong with my record, which is rather more unnerving to hear when one is sleep-deprived.

During the uneventful trip to Entebbe, we were given the usual customs information to complete, as well as a health data sheet to complete.  I know that Uganda is the model for how to contain contagious diseases like Ebola, and I suppose this is one of the ways they do it.  Among other things, the sheet asked where I’ve been in the last two weeks, and whether I had any number of symptoms.  We proceeded to the team of nurses who took our forms and our temperatures before we could proceed to the Immigration officers. 

Entebbe has apparently continued to increase their security posture, because after retrieving our luggage, we had to have it screened.  In principle, I have no problem with this.  I am assuming that there was no room for the x-ray machine where the bags are transferred from the plane, so they had to put it where it is.  Fine.  (I’m beginning to whine here.)  However, this model is similar to ones that airports have at the gate for screening carry-on luggage, meaning it’s waist-high.  So we have to hoist our suitcases up to be screened.  Not the carry-on luggage, just the big suitcases.  Then haul them down once they got spat out.  This isn’t exactly my idea of fun after not sleeping on two flights.

However, if all I have to complain about for an international trip is not easily choosing my seat and having to haul luggage around, I think I’m doing rather well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Welcome back to Uganda!

Any time you return for some place, even if it's local, you either say or hear, "welcome back."  So welcome back to Uganda!

I am quite tired, but am thankful for fairly uneventful travel. For now, I will trust that everything I put in my suitcases is still there, take a shower, and head to bed. Unpacking can wait until tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Different Worship

This weekend I spent the weekend in Charlotte, NC to visit with family.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship and reconnecting (and determining that Bruce and I are indeed Dolley Madison’s first cousins, six times removed; thank you Bruce!).  On Sunday, I went to church with Bruce and Paula at their church, Myers Park UMC.

And what a Sunday it was!  The church more resembles a cathedral to me, with the Gothic architecture and Norman tower.  The interior is absolutely stunning, and the service fed my high-church heart to overflowing.  How have I lived my entire life without knowing that Methodists do “smells and bells” too?  Since it was All Saints’ Day, they had pulled out all the stops.

The music and the worship were truly divine, and the sermon began with the phrase “I love Jesus for….” As I was looking at the surroundings and the congregation, who were clearly the upper echelon of Charlotte, I felt certain that this was an image of how the Church of England had to be when its mission work was in its heyday.  Though the esthetics were phenomenal, what truly made the church beautiful was the love for Jesus, expressed in the ornate stained glass windows, the exquisite music, the orthodox preaching, and the warmth of the congregation.  Their love for Jesus is palatable, and is seen in their outreach.

As I was thinking of this, I thought of a church in Kampala I’ve visited several times while supervising a student.  Though it’s not in a slum, it’s quite close to one.  The church is a Compassion site, and it is teeming with children.  The church is humble, as are the overwhelming majority of the members. I have wondered why the song leader is the one with the microphone; surely someone else in the choir can stay in key better…

But once I get past my judgment, the worship in that church is just as exquisite as the worship at Myers Park, because it is fueled by an intense love for Jesus.  Though the differences between the churches are many, what unites them is of the utmost importance.  Whether the worship is led with a pipe organ and a brass band or a synthesizer and a drum kit, it is offered with a pure heart.  That purity and single-minded devotion ushers us right to the throne room of God.  And both are exquisitely beautiful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Virtual tour of my flat

To celebrate this snazzy internet connection and the fact that I think I have completed all my domestic upgrades to my flat in Uganda, I'd like to offer this virtual tour of my flat.  My flat is attached to the Josephine Tucker dormitory, where I resided my last semester of seminary.  Some of my students stay there in the January and May semesters, and I'll never forget the looks on their faces when the first saw that I am their neighbor.  It was priceless.

Let's start with the verandah.  The front of this loveseat is a bit sunbleached now, but I love it.

This kitty is often on the loveseat, at least until the sun becomes too much.  I call him Mzee (old man) Kitty, because he certainly walks like he's an old man.  Clearly, he's threatened by my presence.
The Dennison's cat occasionally wanders in if the door is open, and this day, she surprised me by demanding requesting admittance.  She was denied... this time.

These are the moonflowers that are growing just off the verandah, and I am all kinds of obsessed with them.  I do have a gardener so that they have a chance at not only surviving, but thriving.  The dormitory is on the far side of the bush, and you can see that the wall was painted a slightly different color last year. 

When you walk into the sitting room, this is the view.  I just purchased the sofa, loveseat, chair (in the bedroom) and tables from a Canadian couple who just returned to Canada.  They are precious and I will miss them, but I do love the furniture!  It is beautiful, comfortable, and well-built, a rare trifecta.  The cross has a descending dove in the middle, with palm-face hands on the beams.

Helen, my housekeeper, chose the curtain for the front door, so it rather dictated the colors for the room!  I chose the turquoise to offset the orange in the fabric and the bookcases, and was thrilled to find the wall hanging at Banana Boat.  It's quite tall, and though all of it doesn't show here, it frames the wall well; the ceiling is 12 feet.

This is the view into the kitchen, with the cooker (stove/oven) in front, with the propane tank beside.  It takes me around six months to use the propane in the tank, whereas a larger family might go through a tank in 4-6 weeks.  Yes, I am that domestic.  On the top of the bookcase/pantry is the lighter I use to ignite the burners on the stovetop and the oven, because I'd surely burn my fingers off if I used matches.

This long table is my primary counterspace, though I'm thrilled that both my best friend, Kim, and Mary Jane, who lives behind me, convinced me that 1. missionaries can have such amenities as microwaves and 2. there was space for it.  I love that my stoneware (seen in the bowls, but is echoed in the plates) carries both the green of the kitchen and the orange of the sitting room, where I eat.

My apologies; I thought I could rotate the picture in the software, and apparently I can't.  However, I did want to show you that 1. I have a refrigerator, and 2. the yellow can is the jerry can that contains fresh [drinking] water.

The master bedroom.  I admired the sheets while I was in the guest house awaiting the repairs to my flat, and they followed me here.  With the bedside table, now I have a lamp by which I can more easily read in bed, since I won't have to get up to turn off the light.  Woohoo!!

The guest room/office, where I think I spend most of my time.  The bed is a new acquisition, and my suitcases fit underneath, which was my main goal.  The chair is also a recent roadside acquisition, and the carpenter was none too amused that I only wanted one, not four, thereby breaking up the set.  The bulletin board to the left is going to go to the office, though I've heard we will be moving, so I'm waiting to see whether that is true.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Life in Kampala as seen from the US

While I'm enjoying the American life of amazing roads, fast internet, and being able to pop over to a supermarket for anything and actually being able to FIND it, I thought I'd share this post about life in Kampala.  

Though I'm not into the Kampala nightlife scene, I do drive a RAV-4.  I have bought furniture from the side of the road.  And the phrase "Jinja Road" makes me shudder, regardless of day or time.  That road is almost pure evil.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

The joys of a washing machine

I did a load of laundry this morning, rejoicing in the pleasure of having such a machine.  Helen, my house help, does my laundry in Uganda, so I'm equally spoiled, but not having to hand-wash clothes is a joy I shall never take for granted.

As I was applying OxyClean stain stick to the bottom of my alb (which never seems to be free from African dust), I remembered that Helen remarked that my clothes seem so much cleaner when I return from the US where I have used that wonderful washing machine.

As further proof that I've gone native, apparently, I was sufficiently enamored with the washing machine that I forgot add detergent.  I remembered just as the spin cycle began.  True story.  So now my clothes are extra clean.