Tuesday, December 3, 2013

walk with me

A long time ago, after we first moved here, I wrote a picture blog where I imagined that you had come over to visit us in our little flat.  It was very fun and therapeutic for me, since I was REALLY wishing for some friends and family to come over.  I am again in the mood to pretend.  But this time, we should go for a walk together... because it has been a perfect Suubi evening.  I may chatter too much for too long, and I may stop to take too many pictures.  But, hopefully you won't mind indulging me.  It is holiday time, and I need to feel like we're "caught up."  At least... as much as possible across an ocean.

I first must comment on the weather, and how, even though this is our 3rd Christmas in Uganda, I still can't get used to putting up a Christmas tree when it is 80 degrees outside.  However, on an evening like this, when it is a divine 70 and there is a fresh breeze - I can't bring myself to complain or wish for a "wintry mix" forecast.  

It is just us and Reynah going on this stroll.  She is packing her tinkerbell purse with the very necessary items - rocks, lip gloss, and a toy car.  She asks me for some money as well, but I say no.  T is at the basketball court and the boys are heaven knows where, doing boy-stuff with their friends.  They always come home filthy at dusk when they are ready to eat.  So, this means our walk is dictated by Reynah's whimsy.  The first thing she wants to do today is pick flowers. 

Meanwhile, I will gush to you about how much I enjoyed getting to talk with about 30 teenage girls today - about sex, boys, body image, and purity.  I always feel incredibly honored to lead discussions on these so-important topics. 

Then, I will start to fill you in on some on of the "happenings" of our little home.  Two weeks ago, we had a baby monkey delivered to our doorstep.  He had been caught by some of the Watoto boys.  His leg was injured, and I wasn't too happy with how they were treating him, so we decided to keep him for a few days.  I must say - ever since we moved to Suubi - I've wished to "babysit" a baby monkey, just for a little while.  He stayed on our veranda for a bit over a week and was SO entertaining!  We called him Timo.  He would fall asleep if we started "grooming" him, would squeal and basically pitch a fit if he saw us eating any kind of fruit, would make the cutest chattering noises when he was happy, and would use our head and shoulders as a launching pad to get to whatever higher destination he wanted to reach.  I did get tired of cleaning his poop off our veranda though, and we let him go rejoin his monkey friends one day when the troop of them came around our flat.

Now, we've reached to top of the hill, the highest point of Suubi's 200 acres.  Reynah loves the little "fish pond" here, and, as you can see, it is a favorite hang-out place for many.

I now get to hold her flowers as she picks grass to "feed the fishies." 

The view is spectacular from here, and this is where our new worship building is almost complete.  It is set to open in Jan. of next year.  So far, our Sunday services have always been held in a school hall that can only comfortably seat 300.  Suubi is a village of about 1,500 residents now, so you can see why this new worship center is needed.

Not to mention... have you noticed the glass walls?  I do question the practicality of glass walls, but, my goodness! What a stirring place to meet and pray and sing - a glass sanctuary on the side of a mountain!  In fact, if I weren't already married, I think I would start planning my wedding to be here.

Here now, I catch a glimpse of one of my boys as he zooms past.  Josiah is having a blast!

There are very few bikes on this village; my kids don't own a bike.  Josiah tells me that this one belongs to one of his friends who got it because he was the "best boy" on his Watoto Choir tour.  If you are one of the privileged children who get a bike, you are expected to share it with everyone else.  And I do mean EVERYONE ELSE.  I will never cease to be amazed at how much better Ugandans are at sharing than we Westerners are.

Other news that you may find interesting (or repulsive) is that November is grasshopper season here.  While we get excited about roasted turkey back home, Ugandans get excited about eating fried grasshoppers.   I have read accounts by other North Americans that suggest Ugandans are so poor they resort to eating these insects because there is simply nothing else to eat.  That's really not true.  They eat them because they genuinely like them, and these grasshoppers are considered quite the seasonal delicacy.  This past Saturday, Josiah, Judah, and their buddies literally spent all morning in the grass field collecting the critters.  Our friend, Mama Andrew, came over to cook them for the boys.

I just found it so humorous to see my pot of veggie soup and her skillet of bugs side by side.

 (Btw, that is lemon grass in my pot... not worms!  -in case your imagination is getting the best of you at this point.)  I do wish I had a pic of the boys eating their treat, but the power went out as we sat down.  So, it was fried grasshoppers and carrot-ginger soup by candlelight.  Ha!

We've now reached the soccer field where preparation is fully underway for graduation ceremonies tomorrow.  The school year is different here, so December marks the end of an academic year, graduations, and the beginning of the longest school holiday.  Here are Maurice and Carlos setting up the climbing rope exhibition for tomorrow.
Maurice and his wife, Jean, are teachers here at Suubi.  They are from the UK and are the only other long-term volunteers with Watoto at this point.  Carlos is a short-term volunteer from Brazil.  We do enjoy making friends with the many international volunteers that come through. 

And here are some of my teachers friends who are also helping to set up ... as they are "setting their hair" to look their best tomorrow.

I hope you're not too tired yet.  We really only have one more stop to see T and the guys at the b-ball court. 

As we walk there, I have to make sure I get in the most excited bit of news that we are looking forward to.  On Jan.2, we leave to go spend 2 weeks in South Africa!  Just our family.  Just for fun!  God blessed us so much - we were able to get all our tickets for free with our airline miles!  Being able to plan this trip has been SUCH an encouragement at times, especially since we knew we weren't going to be able to make a visit home this year.  We will get some refreshing family time away on some pretty beaches.  I'm sure I will post more pictures on here than you would ever care to see.

THEN, a couple of weeks after we return, my mom and dad and baby sister are coming to visit!!! I am just giddy over all this.  We've had some very dear friends come visit but this will be first time to have family.  I won't have to pretend or use pictures, but will have my family right beside me, smelling the same air, feeling the equator sunshine, and meeting our African home.  I've spent so much time daydreaming about this. 

Of course, we have lots of plans to relish the Christmas season... but, really... January can't come fast enough!

So, here is our final destination.  The basketball court is the best place to be at sunset.  It is a ritual every time we come that T has to "fly" Reynah around.

I've enjoyed your "company" so much tonight.  I only wish it wasn't such a one-sided conversation.  If you take a notion to, please dialogue back and send me an update on you and your family.  I would really love that!