Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Family

Yesterday, we found out that one of my fellow staff members here, and very dear friend, lost her father. It was unexpected and traumatic for her, as she had not seen him since he left their family when she was only 8 years old. She had plans to find him and reestablish connection with him so it was even more painful for her to hear the news.

I went with her and several others to attend the burial. It was my first time to attend a funeral here. We traveled quite a distance out of Arua, to their village where a big crowd was gathered. When we arrived, they began singing, dancing and playing the drums as we each took our turn to view the body. Then we sat and a number of people spoke in the local language, Lugbara.

The women continued to sing as they took the body to a closed off room for the family members to mourn. They wailed and cried. In another corner of the compound women were cooking the meal required by the mourning family to provide for everyone. In still another corner of the compound, was the freshly dug grave.

As the rain threatened to come, they sped up the burial and people gathered around to watch the coffin being lowered into the ground. It was an emotional day, but at the end of it, once back in Arua, all of us gathered around our sister and talked and laughed and processed.

Yesterday, as we traveled back through the villages and to Arua, I felt like I belonged in Africa. I have cried with my friends, laughed with my friends, struggled through things with them and they with me. We are family. It didn't make any difference that I was the only white-skinned person there at the funeral. I am part of this family, and I really do feel like this is home. I love them, cherish them and hope with them for the very best and I know they feel the same for me.

Carpentry Day

Africa is great! I love Africa and I'm learning A LOT! However, there are a few things here in Uganda that need challenging, in my female, western, opinion. ;) A couple of them are, a) gender roles, and b) taking initiative to get things done.

Now, we have had a perfectly fine, newly made water filter that only needed a stand to be placed on so we could use it. But it sat in the storeroom for weeks before me and Stacey, one of our DTS students from the US, decided we needed to just build one ourselves. Her dad is a carpenter and I'm no stranger to a hammer and nails, so it was a go. We bought nails in town, found leftover lumber from all the construction on the base, a saw, a hammer and we were on our way.

Our other American sister, Laura, also joined us and away we went. We attracted the attention of a few of our male counterparts who lent their recommendations and their hands so it was a gender-mixed project, fine by me, because I want to see men and women working more together in all areas: the kitchen or the workshop.

After the stand was made, and the guys left, we girls decided to make our very own project. A bench for the girls room. And we did it! Ourselves! Woo hoo! It's weird that it should be such a big deal, but here in Uganda, it kind of is. One of the women walked by and oooed and awed at our creation. We felt pretty good about ourselves that day.

Not just pretty faces...;)

The bench and Stacey

The water filter

Me, Laura, Stacey

Joseph, helping me to hammer the nails


Job

Job is one of our students from our Life Skills program at the secondary school. We went to visit him at his home in town and had a really great visit! We met his older sister, Imani, which means "faith" in Kiswahili and his cousin Frank. They are all from Sudan but have been living here in Arua for many years. I felt an instant connection with all of them. They are sweet and kind and intelligent. We talked politics, government, about our life skills program and YWAM in general. Paul, my colleague, expressed our hearts very well when he said, "we have gained a sister and two new brothers today." I really hope to continue to get to know them better. These are the moments that make me so happy to be here.


Left to right: Paul, Imani, Me, Frank, Job
I hope one day I will have a beautiful son like Job! Hey don't laugh! It could happen!

Heaven Is Tuna Casserole

Apparently, heaven will be like tuna casserole according to my friend Paul. I made it for us one evening after he told me he'd never had tuna before and was curious. I bought the box in Kampala, good 'ol convenience food and they loved it! We polished off the entire saucepan! Laura, from the US, and I laughed at their reactions. Granted, it was pretty yummy, but heaven? I dunno. To each his own...