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!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Proposal update

Last week, I thought my proposal was due on 22 June.  I was working frantically to get a draft to my supervisor for her to bleed on.  Bleed she did, and I stayed up most of Wednesday night and all of Thursday night to send something to her so we could talk on Friday.

As it turns out, 22 June was the deadline for a draft.  My supervisor told me that I have about three or four drafts to do before I'm done (and she sounded fairly chipper, I might add).  However, I got about five pages of handwritten notes out of our 90 minute conversation, for which I am exceedingly grateful.  Now to get those drafts done so I can be done and move on.

In the course of the conversation, she said that at the end of this, I'd be an expert in my field.  I find that simultaneously exciting and utterly frightening.  I'm not ready to be an expert on anything.  I don't feel like I'm qualified to be an expert on anything.  At this point, since I haven't even conquered the proposal, I wonder whether I will get to that stage.  But by God's grace, I'll try my level best (as we say here).

Monday, June 15, 2015

When life feels like a rewrite of Job

In class last week we were discussing the book of Job, which seems appropriate, given all that’s going on.  In the last three weeks, we’ve lost a Ugandan bishop to cancer, as well as two other senior church leaders.  Two students have lost their sisters, and one of those has just lost another family member.  Several students are recovering from illnesses, one of whom had minor surgery, and I’m still fighting my own crud.  I received news last week of three deaths in the US, one of whom was a young man I taught when he was in my middle school Sunday School class.  I read on Facebook that another SAMS missionary is also in a season in which it seems like there is a lot of death.

It has been a tough time, but reading Job’s epilogue is a reminder of God’s nearness to us.  We see Job's wisdom in Job 42:1-6 when he realizes that he can never comprehend God’s ways.  In class, we discussed how we feel when we can't understand God's ways and to handle our feelings with and about God when trials come.  

It is hard to rest in God's goodness and to say with Job, "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (42:2) when messenger after messenger comes to announce tragedy.  However, God notes that Job has spoken the truth about Him (42:7); we can trust God's purposes.  I pray for the wisdom do be able to do so.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Remember me?

Hi there!  I'm Jessica, the long-lost-from-the-interwebs missionary.  I've been a little consumed with my proposal/chapel/lectures/marking/recovering-from-ick/sleeping that I've not been blogging, mostly because I'm saving whatever coherent thoughts I may have for the proposal.  I submitted a draft Friday evening, and I'm waiting for the bloodbath of comments.  I'm actually getting a little concerned, because my supervisor is usually quite prompt, and time is ticking (my delay hasn't helped any, either; please pray!).

As an aside, I mentioned to one of the staff that I was going to want some mornings off from chapel to work, because something has to give, and I don't want it to be me, and he told me to just take care of the teams like I always do, and that will be enough.  Well, that only releases me from one morning a week (two if you count Dean's Hour, and I don't, and neither of the evening services), so anyhoo...

One of my Other Duties As Assigned is serving as a liaison with Langham Literature, a division of Langham Partnership, for two book programs for theological colleges.  One is a grant for theological libraries, and the other is a program by which students and staff can purchase books at a discounted price.  The huge thing is that they pay shipping, and that is absolutely tremendous.  I have looked into purchasing books on Amazon, and shipping is often the same as the price of a book.

While I enjoy helping the students to grow their libraries, I have to be The Mean Lecturer and require that they pay for their books when they place orders, or else I become a bank and an accountant and an enforcer.  I am also allergic to numbers, which is rather tragic, and despise the idea of chasing after people forever, hence the mean rule.  

The catalogue is quite robust, so I make a list of books of general interest for the students, and send a soft copy of the catalogue to the Theology staff so they can enrich their personal libraries.  Oh my.  I was scrolling through the catalogue today... All.The.Books.  I shall not covet, I shall not covet... I did order a couple books for me, but mercy.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

A new title

Do you remember my little friend Cranmer from the students' retreat in April?  His dad is in my discipleship group, and Cranmer often comes with his parents to our Sunday evening Eucharist.  Since we're friends, he often comes to sit with me for at least part of the service.  This week, he sat with me during the Intercessions [Prayers of the People], and sang through it.  I told him we were praying, but he wasn't interested in our prayers, and chose to pray in song.

I know the picture's a little blurry, but I love the joy in his face in this photo from the retreat.  

Last Sunday, Cranmer gave me a new name:  jaaja.  It's a wonderful thing to be named, isn't it?  

Jaaja means grandmother.  I suppose one could say that his dad is my spiritual son, since he's a student and is in my discipleship group, but I'm not old enough to be a grandmother!  

I'm trying to convince him that I'm an auntie rather than a jaaja, though I suspect that this new name is going to stick.  At least to him!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lost and found

When you've not seen someone in a while, you tell them, "you're lost!"  I don't quite understand the origin of the phrase, though I hear it a lot.  I've been lost from blogging because of the proposal, as well as all that goes into starting the academic year and the semester.

Today, as I was looking for an index in "A Century of Christianity in Uganda," I noticed that there was a list of some of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries who served in Uganda.  There are only 693 names.  But look who I found (hint: it's number 326):

At some point, I'd love to research who this other Miss J. Hughes was.  She was "only" in Uganda for two years, and I'm inferring that she had only intended to come for a short time; others who left "early" had reasons for their departure listed.

I'm rather intrigued by this mystery woman.  Hughes is a common surname, so I doubt we're related, but wouldn't that be amazing?