Monday, July 11, 2011

Reminder about your invitation from Lillie Ostoich

LinkedIn

This is a reminder that on June 29, Lillie Ostoich sent you an invitation to become part of his or her professional network at LinkedIn.

Follow this link to accept Lillie Ostoich's invitation.

https://www.linkedin.com/e/-dz20aa-gpz7rgzf-22/doi/3386154530/lRL8epnp/gir_773406429_1/EML-inv_17_rem/

Signing up is free and takes less than a minute.

On June 29, Lillie Ostoich wrote:

> To: [sarah_roar.ugandanadventures@blogger.com]
> From: Lillie Ostoich [lo197@eagle.pbu.edu]
> Subject: Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

> I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
>
> - Lillie

The only way to get access to Lillie Ostoich's professional network on LinkedIn is through the following link:

https://www.linkedin.com/e/-dz20aa-gpz7rgzf-22/doi/3386154530/lRL8epnp/gir_773406429_1/EML-inv_17_rem/

You can remove yourself from Lillie Ostoich's network at any time.


--------------

© 2011, LinkedIn Corporation

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reminder about your invitation from Lillie Ostoich

LinkedIn

This is a reminder that on June 29, Lillie Ostoich sent you an invitation to become part of his or her professional network at LinkedIn.

Follow this link to accept Lillie Ostoich's invitation.

https://www.linkedin.com/e/-dz20aa-gpqln6k0-3x/doi/3386154530/lRL8epnp/gir_773406429_0/EML-inv_17_rem/

Signing up is free and takes less than a minute.

On June 29, Lillie Ostoich wrote:

> To: [sarah_roar.ugandanadventures@blogger.com]
> From: Lillie Ostoich [lo197@eagle.pbu.edu]
> Subject: Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

> I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
>
> - Lillie

The only way to get access to Lillie Ostoich's professional network on LinkedIn is through the following link:

https://www.linkedin.com/e/-dz20aa-gpqln6k0-3x/doi/3386154530/lRL8epnp/gir_773406429_0/EML-inv_17_rem/

You can remove yourself from Lillie Ostoich's network at any time.


--------------

© 2011, LinkedIn Corporation

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Lillie

Lillie Ostoich
Social Services Intern at Philadelphia Access Center
Greater Philadelphia Area

Confirm that you know Lillie

© 2011, LinkedIn Corporation

Monday, April 13, 2009

L: You don't know

"You don't know the stories of Uganda."

We were sitting on the track field, stretching out after our individual work-outs. L started explaining to me how people only want you to know the good stories when you visit a place. "You don't know the stories of Uganda."

He's right. I still don't know the story of the night before. When he first walked over to stretch with me, I had asked him about his response to the night before. Because the night before, according to what I have heard but don't know to be correct, the police had released from prison a man accused of raping a young girl. The night before, like in any community, the people were angry that the man they thought had raped a young girl was out on the streets again without punishment. The night before, the community decided to do something about it. So they killed that man. They set him on fire. I don't know which one came first. I don't know if he was guilty or innocent. It happened outside the school gates, across the road in front of the church.

And the Ugandan students I have heard about or spoken to were rather nonplussed. This sort of thing happens. They didn't understand the American students who cried. I asked L about his response.

"I do not fear death. I have seen death."

I didn't know if I should ask or not, but I did. He told me about those he has seen killed.

Why should I tell these stories? Certainly not because they, by themselves, give you an accurate depiction of Uganda, or of Africa. But because, properly understood, they can help us ask questions that may lead to us understanding better, though even then not fully.

---------

I have told you he told me I didn't know the stories of Uganda yet.

For him, the stories of Uganda are the stories of the districts of Uganda: of his tribe and how he agrees with their practice of endogamy (marriage within tribe only), where if you marry outside of your tribe the children won't inherit your tribal land.

For him, the stories of Uganda include the story of a tribe whose area has now been characterized as a place of cannibalism, so that the people no longer want to live there but move to the city.

For him, the stories of Uganda include the district where witchcraft is still strongly prevalent, and to finish a new building a child ought to be sacrificed, where for every child's body the police find with the head cut off, thus showing it to be a sacrifice, he wonders how many more actually took place. That district happens to be Mukono, where I am.

--------------

These are not my stories of Uganda; I have not seen any of these things with my own eyes. I have instead spent most of my time with a small minority in Uganda – those who have reached university. And still, although those are not my stories and I cannot speak with authority about them, even with the limitations of my story, I have heard these stories.

Uganda is so much more than these snippets. But these snippets are a part of it. I don't know how much I have seen incorrectly, or missed completely. Michele and I were walking home the other day and we both noticed a sign for the first time, for a community development organization. Had it always been there, or was it new? We didn't know. But it's funny how selective our vision can be. I talk about how I'm in Africa, and how when funny things that wouldn't happen back home occur, I just say TIA This is Africa, but really though maybe that's true, that's also selective. That's not all Africa is. And I regret it when I say that, because it implies you shouldn't expect any better from Africa, when in reality you should expect amazing things from this continent that has become a crossroads of past colonial powers.

Before we had both seen that sign, Michelle and I were talking about our blind spots when it comes to people. I was telling her a bit about my conversation with L, and how upset I was with myself that I became more interested in him and his story only after I heard a couple key words about the north and the LRA. We were talking about our cousin brother Michael and about how for us, he is Michael, and we know his story and we care, but for anyone else he is just another "village boy" as someone called him, or just another schoolboy in a uniform, like the dozens I pass everyday, or just another AIDS orphan. We don't see.

Invisible Children aren't invisible. We are blind.

In class we have been reading Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp. He talks about Christianity's Constantinian cataract, that ever since Constantine made Christianity the official state religion, and so made it partner with power, Christians have mistakenly thought they had to have political power in order to bring in God's kingdom. I could say so much more about that book, and that cataract, that vision impairment and its repercussions. But. Another day.

Another vision problem I've learned about in the past is the West's "missing middle," that in between God up in heaven and us down on earth, we don't see supernatural occurrences where heaven meets earth. I definitely still have that. Walter Wink, as I understand, would say the powers and principalities of the New Testament are just personifications of the general ethic, attitude or atmosphere of institutions and organizations. My Ugandan professor seems to agree. When I asked him about the LRA and the reports of Kony being spirit-possessed, he said he didn't believe it was so, but only exploitation of superstition to fight a war. But the books I've read and people I've talked to about the north and about life seem to say there is more to this world than we can explain. The thoughts in my head and relationships with others seem to show there is more to me than the same flesh and blood that I saw up-close the other day when Michelle slaughtered a chicken. As the great sage Thrice says, we're more than carbon and chemicals.

-----------------

"You would not believe my story if I told you."

Back to the track field. And me. And L.

But not. Because a couple days before the track field, I was at an orphange. And I found out how terrible it can be when people are forced to tell their story when they're not ready, or have their story exploited and told for them. I fear telling L's story for the wrong reasons. It is his story to tell. Can you imagine if you tell your friend some very sensitive and painful event from your past, and then the next day you find out they've told all of facebook?

It's like I was reading this article by a Ugandan theologian, Katongole. And he talks about how people can get so caught up in the culture of a person, of the dance and the music and the food and the history, they stop caring about the person. All you see is what you're interested in. Like, for me, all I see is maybe "from the north" or "ex-child soldier" when there's so much more to someone than that.

But one thing does need to be said. I began telling you about a man killed by a mob, and by my questioning of L about people's response. He said he did not fear death. But later, after he had told me about other people he had seen be killed, ones I have not told of, he explained why death doesn't make him sad. He spoke about forgiveness, both for the man killed if he did the deed, and for the mob that did the killing.

After all, we're more than flesh and bones, aren't we?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Third State of the Sarah: Inhale the Dust

I've been writing a lot, more than I ever have before in my life. It's hard. For creative writing, I need at least 22 pages ready for submission for publication. So I've been trying to write things that matter, and things that are true. And that's really very hard to do.

Especially when in the meantime you're in Uganda hanging out with your momma and going to an orphanage and playing Frisbee with your friend who almost always can make you laugh when you're sad and wondering about what is true anyways who is Christ and how do I follow him and realizing you still don't really know how to love and attempting to fill out financial aid forms so that you can go back to school and dreaming about your future and listening to your friend talk about the guy she's freaked out about because she really likes him (actually, do that one two times! :D) and looking for a job back home and trying to run somewhat regularly and shower somewhat more regularly.

But I've been having this ongoing conversation with several people now, about how hard isn't necessarily bad. Doing all these things is hard. But…it's really good trying.

--------

I've been thinking a lot about confrontation and reconciliation. We read Nouwen's Compassion a while ago, and we're reading this Lee Camp Mere Discipleship non-violent, Walter Wink quoting book now. And so there's a lot of talk about peace. Which…I mean, when you consider how burdened I was thinking about war and peace and reconciliation in December, it's insane how much the curriculum here brings it up. I really was meant to be here. But anyways Nouwen talks about how, if you're being truly compassionate, sometimes that demands confrontation. Gandhi talks about truth-force, having truth come up against power to have justice. In the Bible, Ephesians 4, it talks about maturity being when the body speaks the truth with love. Confrontation scares me. But if you want real shalom peace of just relationships, and you want real reconciliation where there's been repentance for how people have wronged each other, there's got to be confrontation. And I've been thinking about what I might need to confront back home in others and in myself. And I'm scared, cuz I'm a bit of a coward.

-----

I've realized I've been asking the same basic question since like junior year of high school. Coming back from YUGO Mexico missions trip my junior year we were listening to Casting Crowns. The song If we are the body, why aren't our hands reaching….basically, why aren't we loving. And the song that's been stuck in my head this semester's Black Eyed Peas Where is the Love? I'm not sure about this, but I wonder if I've been asking the question without seeking out love enough in my own life heart actions words. If I've been asking it too much as I look out at the world, and not enough when I look at myself. Cuz myself…well, can I change myself? I think if change is going to happen it needs to start with myself. So I think the state of the Sarah, in sum, is searching for the love. To bad love doesn't start with S. That would've been an awesome sentence.


Two girls fell in love with boys here. That might be overstating it. But I don't think it is. Our program director, Mark, had a baby girl, Rachel. Our program assistant director, Brooke, is about eight months pregnant right now. She and her Ugandan husband are really really cute together. All the girls aww. It's lovely.

-----

I didn't go on the safari or water rafting. I didn't have particular plans instead, either time. Both times I ended up at orphanages.  The first time, it was after meeting Janai. This past Saturday it was going with some of the students to a small orphanage begun by people from Oregon but run by Ugandans. I will tell you about this place and those people, but not here, not now. They need more space and time than I have right now.

-----

Yesterday, I sat out on the lawn for over an hour with Lilyannie and her two little friends. They sang songs and danced and said, "Mzungu, see me!" and "Sarah, see me!" I spent an hour watching them, and I still wonder if I've really seen them. But they're beautiful, you must know this.

-----

There was some reading for class today that hit me in the face, talking about mission as pilgrimage: "pilgrims who feel the dust under their feet and come to know the places where they sojourn. The problem with the world is not that we do not see others. We do….But to feel the gifts and the needs of the world-that means learning to journey…It takes time just to learn the history, for example, of Gulu in northern Uganda, to learn what is happening there. But when we take time for that, it begins to transform the pilgrim. You have learned the names of people and places, these far-flung places with names very difficult to pronounce. You have inhaled the dust. Mission as pilgrimage is about that transformation. It's not about fixing northern Uganda. You're not going to fix northern Uganda! It's not even about partnering with "northern Uganda." How can you partner with all of northern Uganda? Where do you begin? Instead the pilgrim begins to know, to feel, that northern Uganda, with a ll its tragedy and terror, is a Christian story. That it is not just their story, but that it is our story." – "From Tower-Dwellers to Travelers" in Christianity Today (8-26-2008) by Ugandan-born theologian Emmanuel Katongole

It's not about selling Christ, but about being Christ, being with people where they are, loving them. It isn't about you saving them but about Christ saving both of you.

I want to inhale the dust of this world. Not in an exotic, adventure kind of way. But in a compassionate, suffering-with-you loving you caring about you knowing your name kind of way. It's raining right now, and I want that mud under my feet, in a dirty, muddy, all of our feet need Jesus' cleaning kind of way.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

This and That and Facebook

Michelle and I made no-bake cookies last week for our family again. Our sister started dancing. It was the first time I saw her happy in a while. She's been super busy, she's going to university next semester but meanwhile she cleans and cooks and works at a nearby school and watches movies late at night on my laptop and deals with boy drama. People say we're all so different, and truly there are so many differences. But really we are still all the same.

Proof: Last time we made no-bakes, Michelle and I added a bit too much sugar and ate a few too many of them. We had a dance competition karaoke night. Our cousin-brother Michael who lives down the road heard us singing. It could have been an ipod commercial.

Proof 2: Yesterday the students who didn't go on the Safari were invited over to make and eat cookies. We made and ate cookies. It was amazing. We broke cookie bread together.

-------

My friend Suzana. She's the one that can make me laugh when I'm sad, the one who walks with a dance, the one who's working in the north with TASO, the AIDS counseling organization. When she was in secondary school, she was studying fine arts and literature. Even when she found out the classes were at the same time, she kept trying to study both, running out half-way through one class to the other, or alternating weeks. She didn't want to choose one, but eventually she had to. But she's still like that, wanting to learn everything. She's doing Development Studies, but she wants to study Industrial Arts and Design after working for a while. She wants to start her own business, maybe making clothes, and she'll start talking about maybe someday when she has different branches and she can start an orphanage and she can give the children training and jobs at her business and they can go out to other regions of the country and teach others.

She has such big dreams. So be looking out. Suzan Abong. She's even on facebook ☺

----

I'm learning a lot. I was talking with my cool creative writing professor, Jason Mehl. Who by the way is working on a book that he says everyone is going to have read in high school someday, and I believe him. But he was telling me about how the idea for it came about. I don't remember exact specifics, but basically for a couple years I think he had been working as a painter, like a house/wall painter. And so for months he was just listening to good music and painting and thinking and writing when he got home and one day the idea came to him. And anyways that sounded really nice. To have some normal, not saving-the-world job where you have time to think, and meanwhile you have the energy to be saving the world by caring about the people around you.

He also told me Russians were in such a hurry to get into space because they were worried that when Jesus came back and made the earth new and everyone who had ever lived was living on the earth again, that it would be really crowded.

He's on facebook, too, actually.

You should be facebook friends with my facebook friends. It's fun.

-----

I've been going commando lately. Is that inappropriate to say? But it's true. My underwear has disappeared. *Poof!* Don't worry, it'll turn up. Everything always turns up. TIA. This is Africa. By the way, they call underwear pants here. Which can get really awkward if you forget to call someone's pants trousers, and call them pants instead.

Oh, and they call fries chips. So you know.

-----

I've been learning a little of the adung here, I think I'm saying it right. It's a stringed instrument, it actually translates into guitar, but it's not. Nine strings, do re me fa so la ti do re. Pastor Steven's teaching me. I have video of him teaching. You should be Pastor Steven's friend. I'll find out if he's on facebook.

-----

So, as far as plans for after college that might change tomorrow go, I'm thinking that I'll do Peace Corps teaching English in Latin America for three years, followed by a brief stint of some entry-level work or waitressing at home, followed by doing two years of Teach for America in the inner-city to get teaching credentials, followed by teaching while I go to law school, followed by finding or creating some community development center type place where I can just work for the community and help kids get through school and help parents learn English or figure out immigration stuff or something.

As far as plans for after college that might change tomorrow go.

I just realized that might suck, though. Because…I would have no home community. That's the problem with displacement. You're always feeling displaced.
But I guess I'd always have facebook?


This and That and Facebook

Michelle and I made no-bake cookies last week for our family again. Our sister started dancing. It was the first time I saw her happy in a while. She's been super busy, she's going to university next semester but meanwhile she cleans and cooks and works at a nearby school and watches movies late at night on my laptop and deals with boy drama. People say we're all so different, and truly there are so many differences. But really we are still all the same.

Proof: Last time we made no-bakes, Michelle and I added a bit too much sugar and ate a few too many of them. We had a dance competition karaoke night. Our cousin-brother Michael who lives down the road heard us singing. It could have been an ipod commercial.

Proof 2: Yesterday the students who didn't go on the Safari were invited over to make and eat cookies. We made and ate cookies. It was amazing. We broke cookie bread together.

-------

My friend Suzana. She's the one that can make me laugh when I'm sad, the one who walks with a dance, the one who's working in the north with TASO, the AIDS counseling organization. When she was in secondary school, she was studying fine arts and literature. Even when she found out the classes were at the same time, she kept trying to study both, running out half-way through one class to the other, or alternating weeks. She didn't want to choose one, but eventually she had to. But she's still like that, wanting to learn everything. She's doing Development Studies, but she wants to study Industrial Arts and Design after working for a while. She wants to start her own business, maybe making clothes, and she'll start talking about maybe someday when she has different branches and she can start an orphanage and she can give the children training and jobs at her business and they can go out to other regions of the country and teach others.

She has such big dreams. So be looking out. Suzan Abong. She's even on facebook ☺

----

I'm learning a lot. I was talking with my cool creative writing professor, Jason Mehl. Who by the way is working on a book that he says everyone is going to have read in high school someday, and I believe him. But he was telling me about how the idea for it came about. I don't remember exact specifics, but basically for a couple years I think he had been working as a painter, like a house/wall painter. And so for months he was just listening to good music and painting and thinking and writing when he got home and one day the idea came to him. And anyways that sounded really nice. To have some normal, not saving-the-world job where you have time to think, and meanwhile you have the energy to be saving the world by caring about the people around you.

He also told me Russians were in such a hurry to get into space because they were worried that when Jesus came back and made the earth new and everyone who had ever lived was living on the earth again, that it would be really crowded.

He's on facebook, too, actually.

You should be facebook friends with my facebook friends. It's fun.

-----

I've been going commando lately. Is that inappropriate to say? But it's true. My underwear has disappeared. *Poof!* Don't worry, it'll turn up. Everything always turns up. TIA. This is Africa. By the way, they call underwear pants here. Which can get really awkward if you forget to call someone's pants trousers, and call them pants instead.

Oh, and they call fries chips. So you know.

-----

I've been learning a little of the adung here, I think I'm saying it right. It's a stringed instrument, it actually translates into guitar, but it's not. Nine strings, do re me fa so la ti do re. Pastor Steven's teaching me. I have video of him teaching. You should be Pastor Steven's friend. I'll find out if he's on facebook.

-----

So, as far as plans for after college that might change tomorrow go, I'm thinking that I'll do Peace Corps teaching English in Latin America for three years, followed by a brief stint of some entry-level work or waitressing at home, followed by doing two years of Teach for America in the inner-city to get teaching credentials, followed by teaching while I go to law school, followed by finding or creating some community development center type place where I can just work for the community and help kids get through school and help parents learn English or figure out immigration stuff or something.

As far as plans for after college that might change tomorrow go.

I just realized that might suck, though. Because…I would have no home community. That's the problem with displacement. You're always feeling displaced.
But I guess I'd always have facebook?