Sunday, January 11, 2009

First few days in Uganda

Hey guys! I am finally getting the opportunity to get on the internet. It's Monday morning at 9:05 AM. I am on campus in the quarters for the missions emphasis students. We have a special small house on campus with two very small rooms since we don't have a dorm room because we live with families off of campus. One room has tables in it for studying and the other has couches for hanging out. Each room has lockers in it, and we each have a locker of our own with a padlock that we can leave computers and other valuables in. So that's good.

We arrived on campus at 1 AM on Friday morning. The ME (missions emphasis) students stayed in a guest house and then we had meetings all day on Friday. Immediately after meetings on Friday, they took us to the homes where we are staying and left us. It all happened very fast and was a bit disorienting, but there I was, meeting Mama Joyce, my host mom and several of her relatives, all teenage girls, who I think are her neices. Mama Joyce is a wonderful, older woman--my guess is she is in her 50s or 60s, but it's hard to tell and would be rude to ask I think. I am still trying to adjust to all of the rules of house. Mama Joyce is single, so either she was never married or her husband died, but again, it would be rude to ask. She does have several children. I have met two of her grown sons, but have not met the others yet--she has a daughter living in England, studying for her masters in education.

The house where I am at is very simple. There is a kitchen, a living room, a room with a table in it, two bedrooms (mine and Mama Joyce's), and a washroom (with the buckets that we take baths out of). The bathroom is not attached to the house. It is a small stone building with two stalls, each with a brick sized and shaped hole in the ground that you squat over to go. I am trying to get the hang out it--the frustrating thing is that we are not allowed to go outside at night, so I have to use a bucket in my room, which I empty and wash the next morning. My room has two bunkbeds in it, so it could sleep up to 4 people. I thought I would have my own room, but Mama Joyce said that there are two people (more relatives?) that sleep in there usually, only they are not here for some reason right now. That's ok, though. The company will be nice I guess. I've had lots of good conversations with Mama Joyce so far. She's teaching me a lot about the Ugandan way of life and culture. So far I haven't messed up anything too badly, but we'll see. My house is around 25-30 minutes of a walk away from university. I hope I can remember how to get home today...Mama Joyce walked me to school, but I need to walk home. There are a couple of other girls who I think I can walk with. Oh, one more thing--I have a single homestay, which means I am the only student staying, no American roommate. I am glad it worked out this way though. I think this is something I want to experience alone. Having a roommate would make it harder to build relationships in the family I think--this way, most of the time it is just me and Mama Joyce and sometimes her oldest niece, Ida, who is in her mid 20s I think. Outside of the house we also have a cow, which is kind of fun. It makes lots of noise, though, so the earplugs are definitely coming in handy. The village I am living in is called upper Nabootie (spelled wrong, I'm sure) so if I get lost today on my way home, Mama Joyce told me how to tell someone where I live so they can help me. The Ugandan people are very helpful and hospitable so that shouldn't be hard.

Yesterday we went to church. The service lasted 2.5 hours--crazy! and it was in another language, Luganda so I didn't understand too much. But that's ok. I'll get the hang of things. Mama Joyce arranged for me to begin helping out with one of the childrens' Sunday school classes next week. I'll be working with the 7-9 year olds so that should be fun. All of the children are fascinated by me and giggle shyly and way and point and yell "mizungu" (white person!) when I walk by. It's very cute. I need to make friends with some of them and ask them to help me learn Luganda.

Today are my first classes, but I don't have class until 2. I didn't find that out until arriving on campus, so I have a long time to hang out and find my way around. Once I have classes, I let you know how they go. I am a bit nervous, but not much. The grading system here is nuts--an 80% and above is an A, though I've heard you have to work hard for that 80. So I'll stull work hard, but shouldn't have too much trouble keeping my 4.0. The home stay is the most stressful thing right now. Just pray I continue to adjust and don't get too homesick. I miss you all lots and just trying not to think about home too much or everything that's different. My ways are the foreign ways here, so I am just learning what's normal in Uganda.

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