Tuesday, October 26, 2010


As I was leaving the school on Saturday night, I went to say goodnight to the Boys.  Emma shook my hand and said, "I wish you would be singing with us in the choir tomorrow."  I answered that I would if it was okay with Brother Eddie, hoping that that would be the end of it.  Haha but no, Emma marched right to Eddie's office and said that I had agreed to sing on the worship team the next day.  Eddie agreed wholeheartedly because he's been teaching me the Luganda worship songs.  I saw that I was stuck and said, "But then you can only sing the songs that I know, or songs in English."  Bro. Eddie just answered, "I will chose songs in Luganda that you already know.  And the ones you don't know...you dance!"   Haha so the next morning after Sunday School I joined the young people for worship team and we sang and danced to these amazing African worship songs.  Worship service lasts a long time here and I LOVE it.  For the few songs that I didn't know, I looked at Rose and mimicked her dance.  No one seemed to mind at all that I didn't sing along to those songs.  After we sat down, it started raining HARD and then it started hailing.  Water came running through the church in small rivers, but everyone just moved closer to the middle of the room and waited in the dark (the power went out) for it to die so we could continue with church.  Beautiful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two weekends ago Sis. Tolstad took me to see the headwaters of River Nile.  It was so cool!  She said I could have someone go with me and I chose Peter, and John went, too.  So did Samson and Tonney.  The six of us had a wonderful time.  We took a boat out on the river and saw some beautiful falls and watched some people washing their clothes in the Nile and laying them out on the rocks to dry.  Our tour guide told us all about why the river flows backwards (north).  He said that the Nile's source is Lake Victoria, which is at a very high altitude.  From there it flows through Uganda and then northward to Sudan, which is at a lower altitude and then ends in Egypt, which is at a lower altitude still, where it ends more than 6000 kilometers from its beginning.  I stuck my hands in the water off the side of the boat and thought, "This is the river that turned to blood.  This is the river where baby Moses' basket floated until the Pharoah's daughter found it."  And then the guide started telling us some more of its history that I can't really remember because I as I looked around I realized how very big the Nile is.  It's very wide.  When I noticed that, all I could think of was the history that I had read of Uganda before I came, and how one day Idi Amin threw the bodies of the people he had slaughtered that day into Lake Victoria, and there were so many bodies that they clogged up the mouth of the mighty River Nile.  Sometimes I wonder why God still loves us.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Senior Four class will be taking U.N.E.B. tests next week (Uganda National Education Examination Board) so I'm praying for them like crazy!  I'm getting really attached to them.  I have one students who two weeks ago came to me after Sunday School and said, "I have some questions that I don't understand.  Like why do we baptize in Jesus' Name?"  Church was starting so I said, "Write your questions down and I'll have answers next week." When I got the list of questions I went to Bro. Tolstad to make sure that my answers were in line with his, and also because some of them were about diffrences between Allah and God and I've never delt with Muslim culture much before. He said that the answers were fine, but to wait until after Wednesday church to give them to the student because he was going to have question and answer session.   So I convinced the student to come to church on Wednesday but I planned on asking his questions myself because he's very quiet and reserved.  But to my surprise he participated in the discussion and asked additional questions to the ones he had given me.  After service I handed him the answers I had typed and with the same hand he slipped me some more questions.  I'm really praying that God will grant him understanding. 
Well I've been here six weeks and I finally figured out how to cross the street by myself.  I had thought I mastered that skill in only a couple weeks, but as we were crossing the road from the palace one day (the kids play sports on the palace grounds) I was crossing with a student and another teacher.  We started across and I was looking to the right to make sure it was still clear when suddenly a strong black arm threw itself across my torso and stopped me short.  I looked over in surprise to realize that the teacher had saved me from being smashed by a taxi that was literally inches from my nose.  I keep forgetting that traffic come from the other way and so when you're crossing you have to look for oncoming traffic from the left because these people drive on the wrong dang side of the road. What was most surprising, though, was that the teacher had the reflexes of a tiger.  He went from walking calmly beside me to holding me stock-still in a split second.  So anyway now I can cross the street alone, but no one will let me.  Every time someone sees me approaching the street, they will run up and hold my hand all the way across.  haha Maybe it's God's way of saving me from my own reflexes, which are more akin to an elephant. 

Even though we're in the middle of the city, the nights are really quiet here.  I have taken to spending most of my spare time at the school.  But every time I'm there Peter thinks that I need food.  Or tea.  Like last Sunday when I went over after service to help Head Teacher print shirts from primary students.  We hadn't been there for long when Peter came walking silently up to us, holding a bowl of rice and fish in either hand.  He didn't say anything, but he held the bowls out to us with that gentle smile (you know the one, Bro. Lovall) that could probably soften the heart of Satan himself.  He disappeared and came back in a moment with two cups of steaming ginger tea.  The problem was that I had just eaten lunch.  The rice was very good and I ate as much as I could, but I think that's the first time in my life that I've ever prayed that God would give me strength to eat more haha.  I finally had to give the rest of my rice to Teacher Eddie.  He was telling me while we were eating that he had been going to a different church for a long time but he couldn't understand Christianity at all.  He took his Bible to his pastor and asked him to explain it, but the pastor couldn't explain it, either.  Eddie was thinking that from what he read there had to be only One God and finally he found the church here and the missionary explained salvation to him.  He got baptized and got the Holy Ghost and now he's the assistant pastor.  And he has the cuuuuuutest little girl who goes to the Primary.  They keep her head shaved and I always have to touch it when she skampers by, LoL.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I always thought that teaching would be a drag.  But now...who wouldn't love this job?  Just the connection you can make with the students is beyond words.  And every so often I'll see a 'lightbulb' go on in one of my students' heads - that's more rewarding than any paycheck I've ever gotten.   And last week I was teaching my Senior One and Senior Two to diagram sentences because although they are some 15 to 19 years old, they do not know the parts of speech.  It was slow and painful at first and I had to be very patient, but after a few classes of explaining and re-explaining, I wrote a complicated sentence on the board and the entire class followed along, shouting out the parts of speech for each word.  They are learning! 

       On the note of teaching, though - there are so many things to overcome here.  The classes are not inside - they are outside underneath a metal awning, so when it rains the teacher cannot be heard.  And it rains often.  Also when it rains, before long small rivers start to run through the classrooms, growing with the storm.  And since there is so much open sewage, that comes along with the classroom rivers and the smell brings me back to when we used to go camping and we had to use the outhouses. When it's not raining or cloudy then the sun shines beautifully (although VERY brightly...living on the equator is tough on mzungus) but since the classes are under that metal roof...extremely hot.  Since the walls are cement to keep out thieves, no wind can penetrate and so I within a few minutes of teaching in that sunshine, my hair is stuck to the back of my neck and my shirt is plastered to my back with sweat.  And the classes are huge!  My Senior One class has about 70 students in it.  Not only are there language and cultural barriers to overcome, but the Senior One and Senior Two classes are separated by very thin wooden partitions that are not tall, so even when the students are quietly listening to my teaching (and they are not often quiet), then both classes get two lessons at once because those partitions do not provide an efficient sound barrier.  Any time the classes start talking, teaching is impossible. 
       There are no books for the students to all have one, like in America, so everything has to be copied from the board as the teacher writes it, or I have to dictate to the students their notes, stories, etc.  And so many students do not want to pay attention because English is so hard for them.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with it!  But then I stop and look at the students, and I think of all that I have learned about Uganda.  500,000 killed in genocide.  Civil war that lasted decades.  AIDS orphans.  War orphans.  And the stories that some of my darling students have told me.  "I don't know what my tribe is.  I was taken from them when I was very young."  "I live with my uncle.  The rebels killed my parents when they went to the fields to gather harvest."  "A sponser from America pays my school fees.  My parents cannot find work."   And when I think of this, and I look into their beautiful dark eyes, my heart gives itself to them all over again.   Who couldn't love these people?  Who can ever hear their laughter, or watch them play sports, chattering in a half dozen different languages that everyone seems to understand, and not want to spend the rest of their life right here, helping them understand the Love that overcomes war and genocide and disease and hate?  Oh God, help me to show them your Love.