Category Archives: Photography

coconut trees in the front yard.

It’s my last day alone (well, without a group).  I haven’t done much, to be honest, outside of porch reading and skyping with loved ones and eating.

Tons of eating, too much eating:
Chicken in green curry.
Rice.
Chicken in yellow curry.
Rice.
Green beans.
Chicken in red curry.
Omelets.
Toast and jam.
Rice.
Toast and cheese.
Cornflakes.
Vegetable curry (a).
Vegetable curry (b).
Gravy/soup with chicken leg and thigh.
Chicken drumstick.
Rice.
Chocolate (candy bars, cake, ice cream bars).
Nan.
Chapate.
Rice.
Prawns in vegetable curry.

I repeat tons of food, too much food. All of it challenging the spice endurance of my tongue and lips.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of quiet time with the Lord. And I’ve relished in hearing from the first group and seeing the pictures they’ve posted.  This has been a time of preparation and rest to assure the second team gets all they can from this trip.  I’ve heard this is largely a group of young women who are international traveling first-timers.  What fun and heartbreak it will be to experience this with them, to see this situation through new eyes.

People here treat Americans differently than they did in Uganda.  In Uganda, people would yell “mzungu” and reach out to touch you.  Here, people stop, ask to take your picture and want to shake your hand, which might be understandable if I did something of worth outside of just showing up to their country.  I was reading on the porch this morning and some kids in a yard across the street saw me and started waving and speaking their best English to get my attention.

I took their photo.

All the kids here make me miss the kids I met a little over a year ago so much.  We haven’t been anywhere long enough to establish the type of relationship I did with the Ugandan kids.  And it makes me want to go back to Uganda sometime soon to just say, “Hello. I still care about you, and think of you often.”

This will be my last update until I get back to the United States in just under 10 days.  So I’ll leave you with some more pictures taken with the first team.

Can’t wait to share stories and photos from the second team.  Oh, did I ever mention we celebrated the new year with some Kingfisher beer, on a rooftop, jazzericising to early 00’s pop music, watching fireworks in the distance?  Oh, 2010…what an interesting start.

A really photogenic boy.

Just some monkeys hanging in a field.

Recess!

Love you all, and miss you loads.  But no worries, I have mosquito weaponry.

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an excerpt. of sorts. thank you, anne lamott.

You are so loved, and so chosen.

You are so loved, and so chosen.

porch swings, Jesus and stray dogs.

I get lost in the busyness of the world I’m used to, so much so that I forget less is more.  I forget the simplicity of God’s all-consuming love for me.

This is the second time in the past two years that I’ve been carried away to a culture which hand washes clothes, primarily uses public transportation, and plays games in dirt as opposed to Grand Theft Auto.  How lucky I am!  How fortunate I am to get these opportunities!

I heard some disappointing news about a good friend of mine yesterday.  My response was just that, disappointment followed by anger.  Primarily because I thought their actions were an extremely poor testament to the Lord they so lovingly believe in.

But who am I to speak?  Recently, I haven’t borne any witness to my God unless I was confronted with it by a guy on the last trip.

Being away from all that hullabaloo in the States drives me to follow earnestly after God.  I desire to live a life that exemplifies the majority of Ephesians 5.  When someone asks for prayer, I want to do it there, with them, out loud.  My words are being lifted to the ears of the Lord, and I don’t want my self-consciousness to jeopardize those heavenly moments.  Being in India, specifically, makes me long to become more involved with my own community.

Father, thank you for these intimate moments with you that catch me by surprise.  I haven’t sought you in reading or in prayer, but you still manage to be near to me.  I love you.

spice jetting away.

Wowza.

I don’t know how long it’s been, but I feel like I’ve been over here for ages…in a good way.  I don’t even know what’s happened in the past week and a half, but so much.

We were covered by three different news crews.  Once in a mall, once on the beach and once in a tribal community.  We met a circus elephant, and then became the main attraction as a crowd gathered to take our picture.  We met a community of previous and current workers in the “flesh trade.”  We were greeted with drums and saxophones and weird ritual dancing to a really great little hut community.

Frankly, I haven’t learned anything or witnessed anything about human trafficking that would shatter my heart as I was anticipating.  I’ve learned that Indian people are very pushy.  I’ve learned even if the food is setting my lips on fire, as long as it’s tasty I’ll still down it. I’ve learned to have discussions that go around in circles without getting irritated.  I’ve learned that situations such as this make 13 strangers suddenly become the best of friends.

I’ve also learned about the community in this country.  People care for each other and I think really, truly grasp how to live in a community.  Not like 27 people living in one house, but making your neighbors become your friends.  Celebrating special occasions together.  This is how we were created to be.  Not only borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbor, but bake cookies and share them over a cup of chai tea.  The next few days, I’ll be spending with Vijay and Anu.  Anu speaks very little English, but is so adorable.  She gives you a side hug and pats your belly.  And Vijay, always one to accommodate.

I’m a bit envious of the group that flew home today.  However, I am excited at becoming a temporary, small piece of this Indian community.

I love and miss you all. Photo time!

Cruising along in the train.

We were greeted with homemade real flower necklaces.

A man.

A mother and child.

Trying to get her to maintain a smile as I was holding the camera was a riot.

Chase and I with some kiddos.

Just some boats on the beach.

Entebbe. day two.

I’m sorry about my mini-breakdown yesterday.  I was stressed and frustrated.  Today is better.  Things are very promising that I’ll get my package for approximately 92,000 shillings.  Transport back to the orphanage will be an adventure.  I figure I’ll just shimmy shimmy what and have the conductors or other matatoo passengers assist me with getting my package from one matatoo to the next.

I’ll attempt to post again later, but for now I want to make the most of this speedy internet connection and share some pictures.  Lots of pictures, including an entire sequence.

lily-for-lillyA while ago Sherrie told me Lilly wanted to see another picture of Lilian.  So, my American Lilly…here is your long overdue picture of my African Lily.  We were at the well when this was taken.

at-the-wellSpeaking of the the well, while Lilian and Teddy were busy getting water, Moses and Jacky were busy lounging in the tall grass.

bernahBernah has just completed her S4 (equivalent to a sophmore in high school) exams and is really excited about being an “A” level student next year as opposed to an “O” level student.  She’s really fantastic.

pl-inHave I ever actually shown you the inside of the pit latrines?  In the time I’ve been here, some of the volunteers have sponsored getting the latrines tiled.  A nice thought, but the flies stand out way more now.  I love peeing to an audience.  Kidding.

Begin grasshopper sequence now.

grass-1One day, I came home and the kids were all gathered around a metal dish with green things.  Halima explained they were grasshoppers and it’s a real treat in Uganda.  Paul demonstrates the first step to eating one.  Open mouth. Insert grasshopper.

grass-2After a bit of frying, I joined in on the “fun.”  I don’t know why, no one really egged me on.  I just wanted to be able to say I ate a grasshopper in Africa, I guess.  Crunch, crunch.

grass-3And immediately after swallowing the grasshopper, I guzzled about a quarter of my daily intake of 3 liters of water while the kids cheered and wanted more.

End grasshopper sequence now.

best-mealThe absolute best meal 3500 shillings (less than $2) can buy.  G.nuts (very similar to peanuts), orange Fanta, roasted sweet corn, a rolex, and a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar for dessert.

mercy-meMercy at her finest.  I think she belongs in a cartoon.  She is so charismatic, from her laugh to her mannerisms and her little, high, squeaky voice.  As ornry as she often is and even amidst all the trouble she creates, she’s really darling and I adore her.

frida-nisha-2In addition to adoring Mercy, I pretty much adore all of these children.  Here’s Frida and Nisha.  Frida is a teradactyl.  Not kidding.  She has a raspy yell that she lets out when she doesn’t like what is going on.  For instance, I’ll throw her in the air and catch her or flip her upside down (two things kids often seem to enjoy), Frida yells and frowns at me.  Nisha has got the most personality I’ve ever witnessed in a girl of two, she and Ella rival each other.  Nisha is brillant and bubbly.  It’s hard to remember her little body is one of three here battling HIV.  You’d never know though, she’s my chunky monkey.

frida-nisha-3I hope Nisha and Frida stay best friends forever.

giftI couldn’t let Gift’s faithful fan base down.  And it’s rightfully so Gift has so many adorers.  He was the first to shimmy shimmy what and he’s all around a pretty fantastic little guy.

I love you and I miss you…but I’m getting a package today.  WAHOOOO!

my mom has the sweetest voice on the planet.

Everytime my phone rings and I see it’s my mom’s number, an indescribable amount of glee comes over me.  There is something about hearing her voice and the updates on life in Ohio that keep me from becoming overwhelmingly homesick.

My little sister is driving legally now with her permit.  Insane. 

I started working at St. Joseph’s on Wednesday.  I go there from 8:30 am to 1 pm.  We have a half hour break at 10:30 am and they serve the teachers tea.  It is incredibly sweet, and I love it.  It may be my favorite part of the morning.  That or the glances I get from Matovu, Natasha, Allen and Peter as I sit in their classes.  All the other students are so excited that a mzungu is in their class…but for those four kids and the others from Another Hope who see me on break, they get a few extra cool points for actually knowing me.  It makes me feel special.  I was marking papers all week, and on Monday I finally get to go to the blackboard to do the corrections on the papers I was marking.

Yesterday, Kim and I took the three older girls (Halima, Hellen and Bernah) to Hotel Ivory to do a spa day of sorts.  We all got massages and sat in the sauna and steam bath.  It was wonderful.  The massage was 45 minutes long and cost 10,000 shillings.  Pretty much it was the best way I could have spent less than 6 dollars in under an hour.  Ah-mazing.  When we got back, I goofed around outside with all the kids.  We did some flips and cartwheels.  In the late evening, I laid the smackdown (not literally) on the kids who have lost their toothbrushes.  I was really frustrated.  Today, I bought them all toothbrushes.  I gave the kids who didn’t lose their toothbrushes some biscuits and those who had lost them just got a new toothbrush. Ha! Punishment at its finest and least physical.

Today is the 5 weeks-to-go mark.  So far I’ve seen three going away ceremonies for four people.  Three of the people have arrived and left in the time I’ve been here.  It’s weird seeing so many come and go, I know in just over a month I’ll be one of them.  It makes me wonder how these children cope with growing attached and then letting go to so many random people.  I hope their hearts aren’t hardened by it.

Chani and I are going to Hotel Ivory tonight for dinner.  The constant noise of the orphanage is almost too much to bear at times.  It’s nice to escape and feel like I breathe for a second without a crying baby or loud music.

Now, as for those cartwheels…

img_2153I don’t know when the last time I did a cartwheel was.

img_21641Have you met Peter yet?  He’s 14 and thinks he’s too cool for school.  He never listens to me when I try to be authorative.   But would any 14-year-old boy?

img_2168Directions: 1) Draw with sidewalk chalk on the ground. 2) Rub face on ground. 3) Bob and Kato so proudly model the results for you.

img_2186I love letting them play with my hair.  I wear it up most of the time, so when it’s down they are all fascinated with it.

img_2190Have I told you how we wash clothes?  I do my own laundry, but Sandra’s four-year-old hands are far better at this task than mine could ever dream of being.

I love you and I miss you, but it’s time to escape from this insanity a bit.  Jesus loves you too.

and my vote goes to.

Maybe me and a select few of my friends are the only ones that have these moments, but do you ever experience something and think “This is why a video camera should follow me around. This would make for awesome TV”?

Today was one of those days.  A video camera should have followed Zena, Jenny and I around on our day trip.

Chronologically, let’s begin.

7 am – Wake up, get ready.

8 am – Out of the orphanage to the main road in Nansana.  We all got a rolex (an omelet in a chapate, pure deliciousness for 700 UgSh), and we boarded a taxi to the new taxi park in Kampala for 800 UgSh.  We arrived in the new taxi park about 30 to 45 minutes later and asked around to find a coaster (a minibus) to Masaka.  We found a coaster, were told it was 8000 UgSh to Masaka and sat on it until 10:45ish am.

img_2023A view from the coaster of the insanity that is the new taxi park.

10:45am – The coaster leaves for Masaka.

img_2027A man on the coaster was reading this.  There is no escaping American politics.  I am somewhat (almost pridefully) carefree about the election.  I’m not voting, I don’t have an opinion, whoever wins will be just fine in my opinion.  Well, being here in the midst of election season has recently made me feel really guilty for my attitude.  I’m really lucky to live in the United States and have the opportunity to vote, so many people here have formed much stronger opinions than I have and would probably give a lot to cast their vote.  Anyways, as silly as I think politics are…next election, I will learn about my options and cast an informed vote.  Thank you Uganda.

11 23ish am – We blew a tire on the way to Masaka.

Noonish – We arranged with the driver to let us off at the equator which is about 2/3 of the way to Masaka.  We paid the full fare, but were let off right were we needed to be.  We stopped at the Equation Cafe, run by AidChild, and got muffins and drinks.  Mmm, a fruit smoothie and a cinnamon muffin (8000 UgSh) made me miss SImply Cinnamon.  From there we proceeded to do the touristy thing.  See below.

img_2035Yes, it’s no big deal that I stood in the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time.

Noonish to 1:45ish pm – We shopped around the equator.  It reminded me of a minature Amish country.  There were a lot of stores with the same things.  We went into almost every store and I would have made all my McCracken side of the family proud with how many things I picked up, looked at and put back down.  Anyways, 22,000 UgSh later, we decided it was time to head out.

1:46ish pm – We boarded a taxi towards Kampala.  We told the conductor we wanted to get off at the Mpanga Forest Reserve. 

2:24 pm – We were let out at the Mpanga Forest Eco-Tourism site.  The trip cost us each 5000 UgSh.  We walked about a kilometer up the road and found the reception area completely deserted.  Finally, we found a woman who gave us each a map and sent us on our way.

2:30ish to 4:45ish pm – Zena, Jenny and I hiked in the Mpanga Forest by ourselves.  We saw a lot of butterflies, one hornbill and all of zero monkeys.  To be honest, it was Atwood meets Africa.  It was kind of a bust, except to say that we trekked (haha, that’s a stretch) in an African forest all by ourselves.

img_20671A nice sun break in the trees.

img_2069There was a really overgrown, viney area.  Tarzan and Jane, anyone?

img_2072One of the few really cool things we saw was this butterfly.  In the shade, it was a blah brown color, but when the sunlight hit its wings, they became a brilliant blue.

4:46ish pm – We made our way back to the trailhead and used the bathroom facilities.  Before we left, we were greeted by the woman who gave us the maps and only then informed us there was a 5000 UgSh charge per person for the hike.  I made a bit of stink and told her there was no mention or signage of the charge and it was a poor way to conduct business to tell us of the fee after we hiked.  Hello PMS, I didn’t realize I met you along the hike. She apologized, we paid and off we went.

5:09 pm – We made out way back down to the road and waited for a taxi traveling back to Kampala.  We stood there approximately 8 minutes and then decided to walk along the road towards Kampala which was 37 kilometers away.  We weren’t going to walk the whole way, but all the taxis that passed were full and we’d have a better chance of catching one in the nearest town, Mpigi, because people would be likely to get off the taxi there.

img_2082Along the walk we passed the guy and his cows.  I asked him if I could take a picture, he obliged and this is the result.  It’s totally cool, Uganda is like a huge petting zoo.

5:33ish pm – Upwards of ten full taxis later, a conductor finally decided to pick all three of us up for 3000 UgSh back to Kampala.  There were 22 people in the taxi.  Mind you, the taxi is a glorified van and has seats for 12 people. 

6:27ish pm – We arrived in Kampala and had to switch taxis to get back to the new taxi park.  There was a lot of confusion, I gave the first conductor a 5000 UgSh note and was waiting for my change, or balance as they call it.  The conductor of the second taxi (there was bit of a war as to what taxi the mzungus would get on) was insistent that I sit in his taxi and he would get my balance, as to assure we would ride with him.  He handed me 1000 UgSh and I thought he’d come back with the other 1000.  After a bit of waiting, I asked him about it.  Oh, language barrier, I loathe you.  The first conductor had left and the second conductor was saying he didn’t know that I was owed more and there was nothing he could do about it now.  Did I mention I started PMSing at somepoint today?  I got really sassy with him.  I told him that HE said HE would get me my balance and HE was now responsible for the rest of it.  And if HE didn’t know what balance was owed to me, HE should have never told me to sit on the taxi and wait.  I then proceeded to tell him that he conducts business poorly.  He was really apologetic and I was being a jerk and not having any of it.  I sat the entire taxi ride without looking at him, staring angrily ahead as I had a mental conversation with myself and Jesus.  We were discussing, that as a Christian, if there is a point when it’s acceptable to be a sassy jerk and call people out on unethical business practices, or should you just brush everything under the carpet and forgive, no questions asked, no tantrums thrown.  I never did get a resolution to the mental dilemma, but we paid 500 UgSh and arrived at the new taxi park regardless. 

6:30ish to 7:07ish pm – There was a major shortage of taxis headed back to Nansana and a lot of people who wanted one.  The scene was hilarious.  One taxi would pull up and a swarm of people would crowd around it forcefully trying to get in.  The girls and I stood there with a bit of shock and awe about the entire scene.  We couldn’t commit to getting on a taxi because too many people always got to it before we even knew what was going on.  Finally, we approached where the taxis enter the park.  After quite a few attempts, I finally asked one driver where he was headed.  “Nansana.”  “NANSANA! GIRLS! OVER HERE!!”  We got to the taxi in time to miss the swarm and be some of the first to board. 

7:08ish pm to 8:17ish pm – The trip home was awful.  We went a back way to escape the traffic.  Imagine off-roading in your mom’s minivan. 

8:18 pm – We got off at our stop in Nansana (1200 UgSh), picked up some sodas, chocolate and dinner food (4400 UgSh).  Back to the orphanage and into our room we went to enjoy our dinner treats and end our girls’ day out. 

I’m really proud of us for accomplishing all of today with no help from a travel agency or a tourism company.  It was us and some information from the book my dad got me.  Public transportation here (as aggravating as it may be) is efficient in its own way, and people don’t intentionally conduct business poorly.  Monkeys aren’t easily spotted in the Mpanga Forest and to do a water experiment at the equator costs 10,000 UgSh (we passed).  But despite all of that, today was a full-on adventure.  I hiked in an African forest without a guide.  I stood in the southern and northern hemispheres in the very same moment.  I bartered on some of the items I bought today.  All in all, today was pretty great and the experience, no matter how many shillings I spent, was absolutely priceless.  Haha, you had to know the cheesy Mastercard line was coming…

I love you and I miss you, but I still can’t get over that I was in both hemispheres today.