So, as i'm sure many have guessed, blogging didn't really happen for me this semester. Things got so crazy here and our internet goes out for weeks at a time. Although if i'm being honest, I just hate being on the computer when there is so much happening. I'm sorry for those of you who were trying to keep up with my travels through this. I would love to get lunch with anyone who wants to hear anything about my trip, and I would love to here about your adventures these past months as well! I'll attempt to spit out one more blog post - be forewarned it is going to be a scramble of thoughts and an unorganized summary. Haha - maybe you all should just wait to get lunch with me. If you still want to hear my thoughts scrambled and scattered, read on, my friends.
I have had an incredible opportunity to visit almost every corner of Africa. Kapchorwa, Mukono, Luwero, Jinja, Mbale, and Northern Uganda. I stayed in Kapchorwa for ten days with my host family there. I was their first American student, so that made for a crazy week for the family and myself. My brothers and sisters were terrified of me at first, but eventually they warmed up to me after much effort. Their favorite game the first few days was to run up to me and touch me and then run away as fast as they could - this would go on for quite sometime. Haha - I felt like quite the outsider. We lived in a place called Sipi in the Kapchorwa district. Sipi is truly incredible. It is famous for it's waterfalls and beautiful landscape. My mind was blown daily. It was like living inside a national geographic magazine. My host dad would take me on hikes in the mornings - really, really long hikes. One morning we'd been walking for three hours and a woman in the village we were in said something to me. I turned to my dad to ask what she had said, and he said he didn't know because she spoke a different language. I was not expecting that answer. My parents were farmers, so there was a lot of farming that went on during the day. My host mom was a BEAST. She did so much work and while I was dying during the day, she didn't even work up a sweat. I learned how to carry water on my head through little mountain paths. Even though it may have felt like my neck was breaking, the incredible view and walk usually took my mind off the pain pretty quickly. It was an incredible week, and an amazing opportunity to experience a different lifestyle here in Uganda. While living with a family in a completely foreign place is uncomfortable, awkward, and sometimes frustrating, it is also extremely humbling. It seems to connect the body of Christ a little more while we are still here on the old Earth. It's hard being completely helpless and dependent on other people, but it shouldn't be. I think we have learned to hate feeling clueless and helpless because we are told that defines us as incapable or inadequate. I desire to always be a learner, student, and explorer until I meet my Maker - even if that means feeling lost.
I have had many opportunities to travel on the weekends. I went to Jinja with some friends to go white water rafting and bungee jumping. We also traveled to Northern Uganda, which is where a lot of the Kony war has taken place - we crossed a bridge that police still patrol because that was a popular attack point for Kony's soldier. There is a beautiful wildlife conservation there, and we had the opportunity to go on a safari. Two weekends ago I was in Luwero with some friends and Matt Chambers to break ground for the new hospital SafeWorld is building. It was really neat to be apart of something that has been so long awaiting by Matt and everyone at SafeWorld. I have been blessed with these opportunities as well as many others.
I have one more day in Mukono after today, and it is pretty surreal. This past week has been brutal. My personality seems to contradict itself. I love new things and experiences new places and meeting new people, but at the same time I hate leaving somewhere after investing. As I have started to feel apart of this community, it is hard to just get up and leave now. I could go on about the random things i'll miss: Marrion and I blasting top 20 in the evening, Mama Joyce's laugh (not to be cliche, but you haven't heard this woman's laugh - it's just the best), my shopkeeper friends in the markets, and the hospital. If I were to continue that list, it would go on for far to long and would probably cause anyone reading this to stop in short order. From leaving life at home to go to school, then to be in Philly for a semester, and then to come straight to Africa...it has been extremely exhausting if i'm honest. I wouldn't change anything about these past months though. While they may have been really hard, and stretched me more than I ever have been before, I can see how valuable my time here has been. It has also been filled with an incredible amount of joy. I'm forever grateful for Mama Joyce's hospitality, and for the rest of my Ugandan family's. It has been an honor to share life with them these past months.
I will be traveling to Rwanda for 10 days to study the genocide, talk with survivors, and visit many of the mass graves. After reading a few books, and watching documentaries, I am beginning to understand how emotionally draining this time may be. Afterwards, I will be going to the base of Mt. Elgon, which is on the border of Uganda and Kenya, and will backpack up the mountain on a seven day trip. I won't have internet the next three weeks, but I cannot wait to see you all and exchange stories!
Side note: My last blog post instead of writing Novocain, I wrote nicotine - pretty large difference. Haha - I'm surprised no one called me out/made fun of me for that, but I just wanted to clear that up incase there was any confusion.
The other night Mama Joyce and I were discussing how it seems that parts of the bible contradict itself. For example, it seems pretty clear we are not to lie, but then the midwives were praised for lying to Pharaoh. I brought up the subject because I am wondering if it is okay for Christians to compromise things concerning beliefs in order to be present in government and politics - while, I'm beginning to think compromise can never be an option, I really loved what she said: "Maddy, it may have been okay for the midwives to lie in the situation. Think of it this way, there are people who can jump from one cliff to another without harm, but I know for sure I couldn't make most jumps of that kind. That's why I don't lie."
I'm going to dearly miss her simplicity, words, and heart.
"God made man simple; man's complex problems are of his own devising…" Ecclesiastes 7:29