Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zikka Forest and Water Problems

Yesterday after work I went with one of my co-workers to a local forest- Zikka Forest. It's only about 15 minutes from my house and is a great place for hiking. It was a nice break from my usual routine. We spent the first half of our time there climbing the tower. I'm am afraid of heights so this was quite a feat for me. We ended up far above the trees and sat there for a while watching the birds. It's too close to the city for much wild life so we had to be content to watch the birds. We eventually climbed back down, which was much scarier to me than climbing up and hiked for a while on the trails. There were hundreds of butterflies, some as big as my fist.
One note of caution: don't hike in African forests wearing flip flops. I stupidly do this quite frequently because of my disdain of wearing any other kind of shoes. Yesterday it proved to be a hazard. We had to walk through a path of thousands of ants. These ants happened to be the biting kind. Not exactly a pleasant experience. Thankfully, they only bite and don't have any after effects like itching. Once I was able to remove all of them we we able to continue with our hike. Also, thankfully, they didn't manage to climb past my feet.
The forest really is a lovely place to marvel at God. It's amazing to me that some of these trees have been here for hundreds of years and are still standing strong. One of them was so big that even it's roots were big enough for me to climb on.
On to another subject: water. Water is frequently an issue in Uganda. A lot of times for whatever reason it is turned off. Luckily for the last week or so this hasn't been a problem in our house. However, because of having a landlord that doesn't mind about keeping up his property, we have other water issues. The sink in the kitchen only spouts out black water, and I do mean black, not just a little murky. Therefore, it is useless to us. The sink in the bathroom has a similar problem. Although the water is not black, it smells like sewage so it is also useless to us. No one wants to cook, wash their hands or brush their teeth with black water or water that smells like poop. We've been calling to complain about these problems for the past four and a half months. We're always promised that the plumber is coming but he still hasn't turned up.
Well, this morning the toilet broke. It no longer flushes. This means to keep flushing the toilet we have to fill a bucket from our one remaining water tap to pour down the toilet. Hopefully, this one remaining tap will continue to work as it is our only source of water for flushing, cooking, brushing our teeth, washing our clothes and bathing and prayerfully I will have found another place to live by the beginning of December. This could also prove to be a miracle since right now there's a saying around Kampala that "It is is easier to find Bin Laden than to find housing in Kampala."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Make Sure You Boil the Milk

So, since being back in Uganda I've again lost quite a bit of weight. I eat constantly but perhaps all the walking makes the pounds just drop off. Who knows? Anyway, I was told if I eat/drink a lot of milk products that I would add some weight back and maintain it better. So, for about the last week I've been trying to do just that. Cheese and yogurt is expensive but the drinking yogurt (not real sure what the difference is) and milk are affordable. I don't particularly like milk unless it's in tea or coffee or chocolate milk so I've been buying the drinking yogurt every day in the evenings on my way home.
On Monday, I found some cheap cereal (a luxury here) and decided to buy some chocolate powder (another luxury) to make chocolate milk. This meant I also had to buy milk. Now, usually if I want milk I buy the local milk from the man that milks his cow and then walks around selling the milk. It's much cheaper that way. This means that the milk is not pasteurized and has to be boiled before drinking. Not a problem since I'm usually drinking it with a nice cup of hot tea or coffee. But, when I found the cheap cereal, I didn't want to have to eat it with hot milk.
Every once in a while when I decide to treat myself to chocolate milk, I will buy packaged milk that is already pasteurized. It is somehow packed so that it doesn't need refrigeration and will keep for some time. It seems that the supermarket was having quite a few specials on Monday and I found milk that was marked down. This should have been a warning sign to me but being that I'm always looking for ways to cut spending, I decided to buy it rather than the trusted brand that I usually buy.
Big mistake. I went home and enjoyed my cereal and chocolate milk. Around 2 in the morning I woke up with severe stomach pains and I'll spare you the rest of the details of the remainder of that sleepless night. It seems my plan to add a few pounds has resulted in my losing an additional few since I've not been able to eat the rest of this week.
Lessons learned: It's probably better to spend a few extra shillings on the milk you know and trust and IF you happen to buy the cheaper milk, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BOIL it before drinking.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Never Leave Home Without Them

This morning I woke up wondering what I was going to be doing for the day. Each Saturday is different. Sometimes I spend it working at the church. Sometimes I spend it hanging out with the kids.
Today I decided that I would do some work at the church in the morning and then go to visit a friend in the afternoon. My roommate and I attend the same church so we decided to leave the house together this morning and she would do some things at the church until she had to go to a meeting.
As we were rushing to leave the house, I locked my room. We lock our bedrooms here just in case a thief enters the house. He would have to work a little harder to move around to the different rooms. Anyway, since we were rushing, I let my roommate lock the front door.
What I didn't realize was that I didn't pick up my key to the front door.
I didn't realize I didn't have my key until she had left for her meeting and I had gone home to pick up something. It was then that I realized I couldn't enter the house.
This means I'm finding different things to do today which don't involve returning home and will have to find something to do until around 10 tonight when she will be returning from her meeting.
Lesson learned: Slow down enough to make sure I have my keys.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Three Year Old Boys

Three year old boys are too funny to me. They make me laugh, especially when they are acting like grown men. For example, today my friend's three year old boy kept us entertained while I was visiting at her house. He made sure I had tea and bread to eat, even telling me how many spoons of sugar I should put in my cup and then stirring it for me. Later, he decided to go outside to ride his bicycle. While riding he decided to put a heap of dirt on the back of it. When his mom told him that he would have to wash it before putting it up, he looked at her with all seriousness and told her, "I'm going to wash it, of course." As if to say, "duh, why would you think I wouldn't wash it before putting it away." Then when it was time for me to go, he told me, "Don't go. It's much too early for you to go." He reminds me of a little old man.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where Things Move Slower Than Snails

I love living in Uganda. Most of the times I enjoy the slow pace of life. I like that people take time to greet one another and talk. People are always hospitable. If you feel like walking somewhere, no one minds. In fact, most people will walk if it's a short distance.
HOWEVER, sometimes things that I think should go faster move too slowly. I don't know why I think that some things should move at a certain pace just because I want them to, but at times I grow impatient. For example, to travel 6 miles home from work, it usually takes me 1-2 hours. This past week it has taken me 5 hours every night to travel those few miles. I could walk it faster. I feel like it's such a waste of time to sit in a dark taxi for all those hours doing nothing. Another example, the internet sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out. I can't download most things. If it's something that I absolutely have to download, I should be prepared to sit and wait for at least 3 hours. Or it could be like this week when yahoo doesn't even work at all. This means that I either need to get another email account or I'll just have to wait. The slowness of the internet is also the reason my blog and facebook have no photos.
Oh well, I shouldn't complain. I should just learn to live life as it comes and make the most of each moment, however slowly it may be moving.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Independence Day in Uganda

Today is Independence Day in Uganda. Celebrations here are much different than at home. No fireworks. No cookouts. There's a military parade at the military airstrip in town but that is about the extent of the festivities. Even that is not very exciting. It's mostly only the "Big" guys in the military and other important positions that go to listen to the president speak. Otherwise, most people just stay at home and use it as a day to catch up on rest and work around the house. A few, taking advantage of the day off from work, will go to visit friends. Those in the village will spend the day digging in the fields, much like any other day.
I will be spending the afternoon with some Eritrean friends. We'll be eating their traditional food and drinking coffee. It's sort of strange that I'll be celebrating with others who are not from here and eating food that is not native to here. Oh well, like everyone else, I'm taking advantage of the day off to catch up with friends.
On another note, I wonder if Uganda is truly independent. Yes, Uganda is no longer a colony of Britain and has its own government. But, Uganda is still so dependent on the outside world for many things such as food aid. Most of the aid doesn't come freely. It comes with its own price such as the government of Uganda having to do things as the aiding country wishes. So, is Uganda really independent or is it still indirectly a colony of the western world?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Under the Avocado Tree

Our little avocado tree in Kifumbira gets plenty of good use. Not only does it regularly provide fruit, but it gives us shade on those sunny days as we are having Bible study, praying, worshiping, talking, laughing, learning different languages, or just simply being together. Not to mention it helps keep us somewhat dry when it drizzles. As for the heavy rains, we all have to run for cover.
One disadvantage that we have discovered of meeting under the avocado tree is that when the fruit ripens, it falls dangerously to the ground. Much sympathy is given to the one it hits. So far it's only been two people, but they happened to be two of the older people.
Anyway, for now the "church under the avocado tree" will have to continue until funding is available for another location. I don't think anyone is complaining though. It's so laid back and uncomplicated under the tree that we are all just enjoying and taking life as it comes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Continuation of the Work Permit Saga

I'm definitely learning patience and waiting on God while here in Uganda. This is especially true in waiting for my work permit. My last work permit expired while I was home last year so when I returned to Uganda in May, I returned on an entry permit valid for three months. So, in August, I began the process of applying for a new work permit. This is always an experience here. There's so much corruption which means I am constantly running up and down, back and forth, chasing for the right person to help me without having to pay a bribe. I've been bless in all the years I've been here I've been able to dodge paying one.
Anyway, back to August. I turned in the application before the expiration of my entry permit. A week later, the application was returned to me. Of course, it was after the expiration of the entry permit. The reason given was that the organization that I was applying under wasn't a nonprofit. For me to stay here as a missionary, I have to apply under a nonprofit. This is a new law just enacted, possibly when I turned in the application.
So, I asked the church I am attending to apply for me. All churches are considered nonprofits. The church agreed so we turned in the new application. A couple more weeks passed by and I was notified that my application was turned in after the expiration of my entry permit. Duh.... they gave me back the first application after it had expired. So, they wanted a letter explaining why I was late (in their words, delinquent) in applying for the work permit. In addition, I would need to apply for a special pass that would make my status in the country legal while waiting for the work permit to be approved.
This means another application had to be filled out, another letter from the church, etc. I ran around for two days getting everything together and got everything turned back in. Then began the weeks of waiting for the approval of the special pass. Finally, today I was notified that the special pass had been approved and I should come pay for it and pick up my passport. Of course, the pass was back dated to August and expires on the 14th of November. I'm praying that the work permit will be granted before that date. Like I said, it's been a lesson to be patient and trusting that God is in control.