Thursday, December 24, 2009

Patrick's Frist Visit to Canada: Day One

Wow! We made it! It is so amazing to be here, in my home, with my family and friends, and Patrick by my side! At times, surreal, at other times, so normal, my two lives merging...

We left Kampala Monday. Emmie, Patrick's baby bro came with us to the airport. We stopped at our favorite eating spot in Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria to eat roasted fish and chips (fries). I drank my favorite, Alvaro, a pear flavored malt drink. Yum!

On the way to the airport and all through the trip, Patrick would occasionally lean over to me and say, "In case you didn't know, we're going to Calgary." And we would laugh in disbelief and wonder.

Our first stop was Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We were surprised to see many people smoking inside the terminal! And the A/C was on high, so we bundled up in our warmest clothing, laughing that we weren't even out of Africa and we were already cold!

Then, to Frankfurt, where skin colours became increasingly paler and Patrick began feeling the odd one out, much the same way I do in Africa! How interesting to watch the world through his eyes! They let us off on the tarmac which was covered in slush and we laughed together as we navigated walking in the snow with our inappropriate footwear and braved the cool air. Inside the terminal, we went to the duty free shops to smell perfume for a while. Trying to find a place to sit was hard so we ended up at a table in the McDonald's facing the runway so we could see the planes taking off and landing. Patrick got a craving for fries, so we got some food and as were eating, I told him, hey, did you know you're eating McDonald's? He didn't know and so we "celebrated" another first Western experience for him.

At the gate for our Air Canada flight to Calgary, we prayed and hoped for seats together because there had been a problem with our booking. The woman at the counter was understanding and told us to wait as she worked on it. We were almost the very last people to get on the plane as they waited to see what seats were available. Finally, they found us seats together and one of the other women happily presented us with our boarding passes. She said, "Now you can hold hands!" And "Merry Christmas." A very sweet way to begin our journey home!

On the plane, I met an old friend going home after spending a long time overseas. We were both wondering how it would be to adjust to being home.

As we descended to Calgary, both Patrick and I had these goofy smiles on our face. Patrick was amazed seeing the snow everywhere.

We were greeted at the airport by my sis, Michelle, Kirk, Keenan, Bronwyn, and Rob with Emily and Kaylee. Rob had brought us a whole bag of warm clothes. Coats, toques, mitts, boots. I think Patrick was overwhelmed as we hadn't even stepped outside yet!

It was -15 C, and the cold air shocked our lungs! I had told Patrick in Entebbe, that once we got to Calgary, he needed to breathe and smell the air and notice the difference between here and there. Uganda has a warm, sweet, smoky, humid feel and smell to it. Calgary, has a clean, crisp, fresh, dry feel and smell. He noticed. :)

As we drove, he was impressed by the order of the roads and traffic, the wideness of the city, and again, the snow everywhere. Though very cold, he appreciated the beauty of it.

Once home, we were treated to the most wonderful hospitality by Rob and Stacey. They had made up our rooms, put heaters inside, treated us to dinner (pizza) and really great conversation. I felt like I'd never left. 6 months went so fast!

Patrick enjoyed the food, something I had worried about. He doesn't eat cheese, and we eat so much cheese here. But Rob had some lactate pills that seemed to help a lot so he could enjoy eating everything!

We had an amazing sleep after all that traveling, woke up refreshed, and I for one, definitely enjoyed the hot water shower!!

It is the coolest, sweetest experience having my dear Patrick here with me in my home!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Down With Malaria!


I am recovering from a quite severe case of malaria. Actually, it hit me much earlier than I thought but, two negative malaria tests left me thinking maybe H1N1?? Or just a nasty virus?

Saturday I travelled with Patrick to the village. I spent most of the day asleep on a mat. I started getting the telltale awful headache that comes with malaria. I was sweating, achy, all the grossness that comes with it..Sunday, Patrick raced me back to Kampala, about 4 hours, from the village and straight to the hospital. Blood test confirmed malaria ++. I don't know what the ++ exactly means, but definitely severe. So, they admitted me, IV'd me and started treatment. Three bottles of quinine, a very strong drug were administered to me over a few days. It made me feel weak and gave me a strange ringing in the ears, so it was like everyone was really far away when they talked.

Patrick stayed with me through the nights and the first day along with Clare, his sister, Emmie, his little bro and their cousin Emuron. They took very good care of me though I was pretty out of it.

It was a scary experience for me but I'm on the mend. And thankful for the huge sacrifice of care my family here made for me!

Next time I think I have malaria, I'll just take the treatment immediately, negative test or not!

No more malaria!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pause

I'm sitting here, in the dust, the sun is hot, but I don't want to move. Actually, I'm afraid to move. I am paralyzed by indecision. There are too many choices and I don't know which direction to go. I feel alone. Where are the people? Why is it so quiet here? A slight breeze blows past my face but I barely notice the gift it is. That's how it is with me these days. I've lost my sense of wonder. I've grown cynical, and closed. I know, because I've been here before, that eventually, I will get up and just start walking, there is no other option, but I have no idea toward what I'm walking. I close my eyes and remember the other times I sat here and the way it all seemed to work itself out. I will myself to recapture wonder, and realize, I am again holding on way too tight to life. I need to let some air into this place. I need to re-learn how to breathe. When I open my eyes, I hear someone saying, "take all the time you need." And I relax a little. I breathe in, and then out. I open my hands, catch the breeze and realize what a gift this place is.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Man Cooks!

Yup! My man can cook, thank God! And he has totally changed my view of Ugandan cuisine. It is SO yummy! Beans, matooke, dried fish, greens...I hope y'all get a chance to taste this party in your mouth when you eat Patrick's food!

And he also has good taste in decorating. Hey, mom, see the wall hanging you made him hanging above the TV? :)




Seeing Sasha

I got to see Sasha her last week in Uganda before she took off for Cambodia! I even got to room with her! Sasha was one of our students on the 2006 HIV/AIDS school in Cape Town and she has been in Soroti, Uganda for 2 years! So, it was a big deal for her to leave and a huge, awesome blessing to hang out with her while I was there in Soroti. Sasha, may you experience great, wondrous things in your new home! Love ya!!

Ang Tulay (The Bridge)

So...what the heck have I been up to the last few months? Ok, so if you've read my newsletter, all of this is in there so sorry for the repeat, but I've added what happened in Arua which is new, so you can skip ahead to that part! And I've also added the few pictures I have:

Ang Tulay (The Bridge)


Ang Tulay! Actually, the timing of my arrival in Uganda was perfect because the team from Precious Jewels Ministry in Manila, Philippines, came back in June to begin training YWAM Uganda to implement Ang Tulay in Uganda! I attended the sessions last October, which is Phase 1 of the program, then we attended Phase 2 in November and now we are in the midst of Phase 3 and have been since June!

Ang Tulay simply means, “The Bridge” in one of the Filipino languages. It is a week long “journey” over the bridge using steps that help both children and adults work through their grief and trauma. See the link below for more information about Ang Tulay and also Precious Jewels Ministry.

http://www.preciousjewels.org/angtulay.html

What I love about it is the creative nature of the program. It includes stories, music, art, drama, small groups, and activities. I have seen with my own eyes the difference just this one week can make in a child’s life, helping them to share their painful experiences, for some, maybe the first time in their lives.


IMPLEMENTATION


From June we have been adjusting the program to fit the culture of Uganda. I’ve been part of the team working on activities that use local materials, while other teams worked on stories, others worked on visuals until we were ready to actually run an Ang Tulay session.


JINJA

We began in Jinja, first a 2 day mini Ang Tulay with the YWAM base children. Then we did an entire week at Siita’s Nest Children’s Home near the base. I was an assistant small group leader there, with 9 kids, aged 14 and 15 years. It was intense but very rewarding, helping the children open up and work through many issues ranging from the death of parents due to AIDS, abandonment, abuse by relatives or step-parents and worries about getting a good education and the finances to continue on in their studies.

SOROTI

We took a week break after that to re-group and prepare for Ang Tulay in Soroti, eastern Uganda. This is where there is currently a famine, people are struggling for food and some have also died from the lack.

It was such a joy to bring these young people from the village for a week and feed them 3 good meals a day as well as tea in the mornings. One of my favourite parts of the week was serving the food and handing each child their plate knowing they were getting proper nutrition at least for this one week.

These youth are part of Life Skills clubs in the village run by YWAM Soroti’s FACE program. FACE (Facing AIDS with Compassion and Education). They are vulnerable children, usually from families struggling with HIV, poverty, lack of education etc.

I was again an assistant small group leader with a group of 16-17 year olds. We had a challenge of language, but we managed with the help of one of the girls who knew English well and could translate into Ateso for the other members. It was such a privilege to be allowed into the painful experiences these youth shared with us. At times, it was very difficult not to cry in front of them as they shared about deaths, beatings, being sent from home to home, and their deepest desire to be educated but no one to help pay for their fees. Some of the youth remain in the primary school level because it is government funded though they are old enough to be in secondary. Some of them also came with only one set of clothing for the week, no soap, no mattress. We gave out soap and toilet paper and brought mattresses for them and I think they were really blessed to be so cared for and leave their troubles for that week.

I got so attached to these youth and it was hard to see them leave knowing some of them are going back into difficult situations. But we believe they gained some good tools for handling their situations and we keep praying for them.

ARUA

Now, I am back in Arua. Two weeks ago we began preparing to have Ang Tulay here on our base with our staff so they can see the benefit for themselves of this program. I was in charge of supplies and materials as well as songs and icebreakers for the week! On Sunday after not knowing if our Jinja team would even arrive due to the riots in Kampala, it was a great joy to see our Jinja team to arrive!

The week was challenging but amazing and rewarding! Our staff all responded positively. Every morning, we began preparing early, and didn't stop until late at night. But for me, it was a privilege to be involved and see some of my close friends and fellow staff members being touched by God in special ways.

The Filipino team has made a commitment to YWAM Uganda of 5 years to implement Ang Tulay here. So, we continue to move forward eventually being trained to train others! I had no idea the process is so involved but I see the huge need for this ministry to be done well and effectively. I’m glad the Filipino team is taking us through step by step!

My life these last few months has been all about Ang Tulay and these children and youth. I have definitely felt a shifting within myself, an opening up of my heart to the young people of Uganda. I hope and pray I will get to continue walking with these children and see their lives changed!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riots In Kampala

For the last few days, riots have broken out in Kampala, because the president has refused a tribal leader entry to the city. Our team from Jinja that was meant to travel today to Kampala to catch the bus to come to Arua, had to delay their travels because of the violence. So, we don't know if they'll be able to travel tomorrow or not. They are coming to help us run the Ang Tulay here.

Patrick, who works in Kampala, was in the midst of the riots, but at least safe in his office building. He said he heard gunshots, and the military was everywhere and he even witnessed someone being beaten by a bunch of men! I was so, so happy when he finally got home and was away from city centre!!

Hopefully, these two leaders, both with a lot of influence, can come to an agreement instead of inciting violence among the people!

Some of my Ugandan friends are struggling, wanting so much more for their country than this!

To read more, follow the links below:

Story:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/09/11/uganda-nine-dead-in-kampala-riots/

Images:
http://independent.co.ug/index.php/component/content/article/106-myblog/1745-images-from-yesterdays-kampala-riots

Monday, August 24, 2009

Map Of Uganda

Here is a map of Uganda so you can see some of the places I've been travelling to. I am based in Arua, in the north west but I've been on the field for the last 2 months. Most of my time has been spent in Jinja, right above Kampala. In one week, we travel to Soroti, in eastern Uganda for another week and then to Arua for a week and back to Jinja for debriefing and wrap-up of our programs. You can also see Kigali, in Rwanda where I went to teach an HIV/AIDS seminar in the bottom left hand corner.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

My Two Lives



So here I am! I'm back in Uganda! This has been the shortest time between two trips I've ever experienced. But it felt just right. I'm so glad I was able to get my job back at the museum temporarily (it's true! I'm glad)! And thank you Bob Martin for that! I really loved seeing old friends and family, going for coffee, after coffee (I love you Timmie's) with different people, walking around downtown Calgary and seeing the changes and though I was freezing, it was also nice to see snow.


Now, to the other life I lead in the hot, dusty and beautiful backdrop of Uganda! I have to say that I'm slightly bummed that I am so used to this life now and the things that used to bring wonder and amazement to me are just normal occurrences. Sigh...I very rarely have those "omg I'm in Africa" moments. But I do feel at home and that's a nice feeling. When I went to town the other day, I saw a few people who remembered me and were very excited to see me back. One of the supermarket owners gave me a free soda and asked, "How was Canada?"! The boda boda's I usually use for travelling to and from base were still there and happy to give me a ride.

I'm off again tomorrow to Jinja, a 9 hour journey, to continue helping implement Ang Tulay, grief counseling for children. We're gone for close to one month before we end up back in Arua again! I can't believe how fast time is going already!

Monday, June 01, 2009

My King's Bridge Interview

Yesterday at the coffee shop, we showed my interview and then had a group discussion. If you want to see the interview and be part of the discussion, click on the link below, go to the video page and click on HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Thanks to everyone who came out! Your support is amazing!

http://www.bridgetalk.ca/

Going "Home"


I'll soon be on my way. A few days ago, I told a friend I needed to get some more supplies for my friends back "home." She had a look of entertainment in her eyes when she pointed out how I referred to Uganda as home. I was surprised, not by what I'd said so much as how easily it came out and that I didn't think twice about it.

So, I'm going home. I leave June 13th and arrive in Entebbe the 15th. Spending a week in Kampala before going to Rwanda for a week to help a friend teach an HIV/AIDS seminar.

I have to say I'm pretty equal parts excited and nervous. I feel like I've adjusted pretty well back to Canadian life, only to have to re-adjust all over again in Uganda. Ah, well, I've become an expert at it I suppose.

Stay tuned for more adventure!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eating White Ants in Uganda

How Does It Feel?

I met these youth in Arua who are super talented and I adore them! The group get together often and write their own songs as well as cover some of their favorite artists like Linkin Park, Coldplay and Avril Lavigne! They are Sammy, Mark, Becky and Naaman.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

True Dat Yo..True Dat!

Ghetto Bible

The Ten Commandments from the Ghetto Bible! This is RAD!

1. I beez God. Don' beez dissin me wit otha godz.
2. Don' beez makin no hood ornaments like nothin in my crib, anythang upstayrs, orr anythang anywherz elz.
3. Don' beez usin my name 'n a wack way - homey don' play dat.
4. Y'all betta be keepin da sabbathh.
5. Don' dis ya mama ... an if ya know whoz ya daddy beez, don' dis him neither.
6. Don' cap ya bros.
7. Don' cheat on ya babies' mama.
8. Don' be liftin no goods.
9. Don' be lyin an' snitchin on ya homies.
10. Don' be eyein' ya homie's crib, ride, or nothin.

My favorite is #5, and a close second would be #6! I tried to find the whole bible in ghetto but came up with nothin'!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sigh...good movie...sad and good and beautiful and tragic. When we are touched by injustice on a personal level, we will never be the same. I am deeply troubled by this feeling that I can never do enough...it just never seems to be enough...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blue


I sometimes feel like I have so much inside that needs to be expressed, but no outlet to express it. I live with this "on-the-edge" of something state, kind of like the day today.

The sky is SO blue, the sun is SO warm, the snow is SO white, you can HEAR spring melting through the icy cold of winter, bubbling up and waiting to explode on the earth in green and brown, in new life, in shedding of layers...oh the freedom! It's just there, ready and waiting..

That's how I feel. Dying to shed my layers..I am chasing the spring, longing to explode with the sun, to empty myself into the blue of this sky. It's as though something is ready and waiting for me, I can sense it with all of my being, but it's somehow always just a day away, like the coming of spring. Maybe, just like the seasons changing, one day, I'll discover I am suddenly in the midst of it, alive, warm and free, surrounded by all the green and brown, the new life, discovering a way to explode into the blue.

Yes, maybe...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Re-Integration

After a year in Uganda, I'm home for a visit. I arrived three days ago. My very first night in Canada, I had a dream in which I was nearly attacked by a family of moose! When I woke up and remembered the dream, I laughed out loud. Anybody wanna take a stab at interpreting that one?! :)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Birthday 2008

On Boxing Day, Harriet and I fled our village in Pajulu and ran to the big city to have some fun celebrating a milestone birthday for me! I am still not sure how I can possibly be 30 already! We took a 7 hour bus ride there and stayed for 4 days. We enjoyed good coffee, the cinema, people watching, walking around town in the evening when the city comes alive and visiting my friend Heather. I haven't seen her since last January when I was in her wedding. Now her and husband David, have a beautiful baby girl, Abijah. It was a sweet break from Arua, but I was also glad to come home to my "village." Arua feels like home for me and there's no place like home.

Me and Harriet in Kampala
Me and Heather
David and Heather
Harriet with Abijah
Me with Abijah

Christmas 2008

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. This is my third Christmas in Africa and it is always strange for me. Just doesn't have the same feel to it. But I still enjoyed eating the 20 different flavours of Italian ice cream made by the host of the Christmas Eve party we went to. Marscipone cheese, coffee, pineapple...mmmmm...

Christmas Day I got to gorge myself on a proper turkey dinner made by Vikki, one of our base leaders. They raised the turkey themselves, slaughtered, stuffed and cooked it! I was immensely impressed! I helped make the apple pie we had for dessert. Yum! Then we all played the Wright's Wii they got for Christmas! Was pretty rad. Found out I'm a pretty good Wii bowler. But not as good as Regina who has never played a video game in her life! She got top score!


From left: Regina, Harriet, Martha, Benjamin
Me and my bro Jono
How weird to see Christmas decorations andGREEN grass
This was a massive tree in the backyard of the Christmas Eve party we went to!
Christmas carols by candlelight, my favorite part of Christmas