Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stories and Advice

Some stories…

Liliannie lives in a one room shack with her mom that's at the most 10 by 10 feet. Her mom works at her house cooking dinner. This week Liliannie started eating dinner with us at our house. And the rest of the evening, we tickle her and repeat after her as she points at numbers and practices her alphabet, and play airplane with her and let her twist our hair around. She's darling. But I don't really understand her life. Her entire home is smaller than my room. Something's wrong there.

Most windows here have bars on them for safety. At the IMME headquarters on-campus we have two little rooms to hang out in when we're not in class or at home. Right now there's eight of us in a room that's about 10 by 12 feet. I always feel like we're animals in a zoo. It makes me happy.

My momma's making 1000 skirts for her school where she works as a nurse. She's legit.

The boys here really want to marry bzungu. And they'll ask you, "how do I get a mzungu to marry me?" And no matter how many times we try to explain, they don't understand why that might seem offensive. All they want is to marry you, after all. If I were them, I'd want to marry a muzungu, too, whether that sounds bad or not.

It turns out that I made the same new year's resolution as I did last year. Hug people a lot. Maybe I've found my calling.

Some pieces of advice…

It turns out that the random guy selling skirts at the market definitely knows how big your butt is, and you definitely don't. Next time, let them choose the skirt.

Caution: If you are late getting home, beware the child who stands at corners waiting to yell Mzungu and call forth the battalion children. Running may be an acceptable method of evasion. If besieged and unable to escape, be sure to skip and sing Lion King songs. The children will gladly repeat after you.

Furthermore, although the first few words you will be tempted to learn in the native language may be things like Hi and How are you, be sure to also arm yourself with an array of Don't disturb me and Leave me alone. These will come in very handy when the children try to climb up your arm or just happen to be running around with a knife.

On the note of language. In order to function fully in your new home, learn how to accuse and reject the state of craziness. Spend inordinate amounts of time practicing; after all, practice makes perfect. In addition, practicing exotic languages also creates a functioning family unit, especially when the two talking happen to be practicing different languages.

Next time you travel, go to Egypt. At least they'll offer one woman one camel. Here, it's two chickens to 13 bzungu. Obviously, Egyptians are better traders.

When showering in the dark, be sure to tell apart the soap from the cockroach. And when showering in the morning, as a certain friend of mine learned, be sure to tell apart the water bucket from the bedpan.

Canadians should not be trusted. Don't let their smiling faces fool you. There is not actually a red potion or a blue potion that will make you feel better. And when you don't fix guitars, they don't make baby ukuleles. On that note, don't trust Iowans. Giant caterpillars do not become snakes. Furthermore, realize that the U.S.A. is not actually the United States of America. Rather, it is California, and then everybody else.

On a more serious note, here's the link from the blog before of War Deaths in 2002 and military expenditure and so on:

valentine's day

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling, For more than a cause
I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You're raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices, With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies, In twenty four parts.
I'm not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out.
 We want more than this world's got to offer
we want more than the wars of our fathers
Everything inside
screams for second life
we were meant to live for so much more
we lost ourselves

There's this book, Bruchko, by Bruce Olson. It used to be called For This Cross I'll Kill You. He tells the story of himself, starting back when he was an angry, uncoordinated, dorky thirteen year old afraid of the Lutheran God of judgment he knew reading the Bible one evening:

Then I came across a verse that shocked me and sent electricity jingling through my body. I sat up and read it again: "For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." I knew God's justice, that He would judge me on the basis of my impurities – but here was a verse saying that Jesus had come to save the lost…I felt drawn to try and speak to Christ…It was a simple talk, but it was the first I had ever really had with Him…"Oh, Jesus…I want peace and fulfillment…I want to be delivered from all my fears…" At that moment I felt a presence…."Lord, I'm frightened by You…Everything is messed up around me. And it's messed up in me, too. But, please, God, I want to change…Make me new." And then I knew that I was being saved." (26-27)

When he was 19 he went to Venezuela on his own, with no missionary organization and no support. He would almost die or be killed several times. He went into the jungle, and the first thing he did was get lost. But eventually he would find a brother in a young man several years younger than him he called Bobby, and the tribe found the God that their legends told they had lost when they were deceived and went down the wrong trail, they found the God that walked those same trails as they did when he came to earth and died for them. And they put their faith in them, or in their language, they tied their hammock strings into Christ and were suspended in God.

Later, they're translating the Bible and for in Philippians how it has the verb for being conformed to Christ, even his suffering or his death. Bobby chose a new verb tense they had made, something already done, yet lying in the future. He writes, "I had brought Jesus to the Motilones, yes; but was I ready to bring them this kind of conformity – conformity to the death of Christ?"

Bobby made the decision to use this future yet present word for conformity to Christ even in his suffering and death, at a time that the entire life of the tribe was threatened by settlers. Three weeks later he was killed by settlers who had warned, "I will kill you for this cross." His wife said "Jesus Christ died for all the tribes of the world. Bobby is almost like Him. He died for the Motilones." (194)
That peace, that suspension, what else does anybody want to know? I spent Valentine's Day with three other students reading the Word to each other, talking about God's love for us and in us and through us. And it was the most natural thing, to talk about Christ the Lover pursuing us his Beloved. And I don't know why I'd ever spend Valentine's Day in another way. Or any day. Oh, and I got a kiss. Chocolate. Sweet. Literally.

We talked about conflict yesterday in class. Readings on Northern Uganda, on Sudan, on what about Africa makes violence so overwhelming. It reminded me of this cartogram I found many moons ago, of War Deaths in 2002. Check the link and look at War Expenditures. It'll give you some food for thought. At lunch we were still talking about class. Talking about people dying from starvation and being killed and living lives of fear and desperation and hopelessness. And we were crying. One of my friends, I love her, was so upset. "Why ME? Why am I so blessed that I can eat food three times a day, and meanwhile they're DYING?"

Some questions you just have to sit in for awhile. Questions like we discussed in our Simple Living discussion about only asking for our daily bread and nothing more.
But you know that peace I was talking about? I still have it. Today's one of those rare days I'm not wearing my peace cap, but I still have it. I don't' know the answer yet. I don't' know how to figure out how Christ is real if we have to always put the word church in quotations. But for some reason, that love, even if it's missing here, I believe in it, I believe it and it brings peace. Other days I know I won't have it. But still. I believe.

I was sick last night, like bye bye food. But I'm okay today. When I was feeling less okay, though, for sure it sucked, but I didn't want it to stop me from life. Or from loving others. Michelle hasn't been able to eat for over a week, and yet she has the energy every day to get up and go to school and play with our beautiful little neighbor friend Lilyanna.

One other thing about Christ's love. It's getting so much bigger in my life that I have less and less patience for things that aren't it. Theology-wise, like, I don't want to talk about Christianity anymore, I just want to talk about Christ. His love. That's it. And yet you can't quite do that. Yesterday I was talking with Michelle about the war in Iraq and about Islam and Muslims and are other religions demonic or simply responding to the amount of light they've been given. And I don't know. About any of it. But all I know right now really well is Christ's love. That sounds really hippy. But it's not, I swear. It's real, it's genuine, it's Christ and it's the cross.

And maybe the settlers thought Christ only died for their tribe and were willing to kill for that cross, but Bobby knew that Christ died for all tribes and was willing to die for that cross. People seem to be so willing to take a life rather than give their own. Myself included. A friend I care about a lot made me realize the other day that I'm really quite the hypocrite. It was good. I hope that friend reads this. I know I'm a hypocrite. But Christ. And maybe that friend can't accept but Christ, but I think they might get a love that dies for the one that kills the one that dies.

I'm not that love. I wish I was.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


So in 1 King 18 God comes down in blazing fire and proves himself and Elijah is triumphant in his faith. But in 1 Kings 19 Elijah's on the run and he asks God to let him die and he struggles in the wilderness:

And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." ...  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

And that low whisper was the Lord. It goes on. Elijah gives his exact same spiel again. The Reverend at chapel taught how God is not always the raging fire but also the low whisper. But then he began to look at Elijah, saying that if you want spiritual maturity, DON'T be like Elijah. Because Elijah despaired, had self-pity and thought he was the only faithful one left. And that really got to me. Because I've been like that. I think every Christian worries about how most of the Church isn't really the Church. But I'd been really letting it get to me, wondering how Christ could really be Christ if his Church wasn't really his Church. Despair. Self-pity: Elijah was like, "God, I've been doing all the right things, and now I'm being persecuted!" So I'm not even being persecuted, but I've pitied myself because this past couple of months I've tried to be transparent, share, confess issues. And sometimes I don't get the love I want/need, and I get sad for myself. But that's stupid. Of course it's natural. But I shouldn't be going into an interaction just seeking to get something out. I think instead of really sharing I was just looking for encouragement. And encouragement is good, no doubt. But not when what you need might be a harsh word. At least I've done a better job seeing my own problems. But I still catch myself feeling like everyone else just needs to have more love, when I have to start with me.

I'm reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider. And you know he's all about big social justice issues. But he does a great job bringing it back to me and you:

"Pope John Paul II has rightly insisted that evil social structures are "rooted in personal sin…But the accumulation and concentration of many personal sins create "structures of sin" that are both oppressive and 'difficult to remove" (116).

That goes back to Blue Like Jazz where the author says he'd like to hold up a sign at a protest saying "I'm the Problem," because no one can change anything in the Congo until they change themselves. And then in another chapter Sider got me sniffling even more, cuz he was talking about how "the church should consist of communities of loving defiance" and how as much as we want to reject this culture of materialism and sex and success, that is impossible as individuals. Impossible. No Mission Impossible individual still making it possible. Impossible. He talks about how "the plausibility of ideas depends on the social support they have" (207). In other words, it's really really hard to believe the Bible isn't just balony when it talks about peace and joy and community living and love if you don't see those things in your own life in yourself and the people around you.

And once again I just wanted to cry and my friend sitting next to me asked if I was sick cuz I was sniffling so much. Cuz man I want that so bad. Man I need that. The chapter went on to give all these examples of house church congregations where people sign the papers for an interest-free mortgage on another family's house and make annual commitments to daily prayer and Bible study and have to be accountable to their small group about it every week and put all their money in a general fund and have it allotted to them every month according to need and not contribution and all buy apartments in the same two neighborhoods so they can share lawnmowers and washing machines and be Christ in the community. And I know all of those are only different ways. But where all of this comes out of is a deep love for one another and, just I mean love how much do we need that. How much do we need that.

And at the very end this was one of the study questions: "How close is your local church to the ideal of Christian community? What do you think God is leading you to do about that?"

And in the past that question has always made me so sad because I want my church to be closer to that ideal. But lately it's been hitting me more how much I, myself, need to be closer to that ideal. And how much I don't reach it, rather than how much others don't. Like. I suck at community. I want it so bad that I cry about it when I read books. But I really really suck at it. Maybe not in a I fight with them kind of way, but in a I have messed up priorities so I'm never just there, never just Present and talking with people about their day and praying with them and committing myself in that way and taking chances and trusting them with my own life and putting others before myself and before my grades and before my job. That's what I want so bad but then I don't do it myself.

My awesome ninja brother told me to relax because I'm trying to do good and I care and I just might be a ninja, too. And I know I probably should some. But a lot of me says that I've never just like tried to be, not even good, but just be there. I don't know how to just put people who are sitting in the room with me first. I don't know how. Does that make sense? I think a lot of my friends want to go No! here like my bro and say I'm cool and nice and stuff. Cuz I am. Lol. As in, I know I'm not some big bad terrible person. But my priorities are still wrong. And that sucks.

I've been around this earth for twenty years, grown up Christian and been pretty serious about that. But I still don't know how to put others first and just love them. I really don't want to graduate from college and still not know how to do that. I'm really scared though that I might let them happen if I don't figure out how to make sure I don't now and next year. So. Next time you see me, do me a really big favor, and make me put you first. Seriously. Please? Thanks.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Life's not Fair - A Month in Review

In Brief - State of the Sarah and the World:
    Food: Yummy. Even our American cooking! Fingers: Good, despite a car door attack. Feet: Rather liked by mosquitoes and blisters, but effectively walking. School: Learning. People: Loving. I'm not dead; on the contrary, I feel quite alive. All in all, I'm in tip top shape.
    Meanwhile, Israel stopped its military offensive in Gaza in time for Obama to become president of the USA, twice, and Gaddafi wants to make a new USA – the United States of Africa. Barbie's fifty years old and animal life is apparently millions of years older than people were saying last year.

State of the Sublime Sarah:
    Either my faith will stretch way farther than ever before, or it'll just pop. I'm kinda scared. What do I believe? Salvation and damnation, the Holy Spirit and prayer, love and hate, Christ himself. How do I live out what I believe? I don't quite know.
    Yet I find reassurance in a welcoming breeze and joy in the downpour of rain. I find peace in music, whether it be Underoath screaming out to the unfaithful and ungraceful and unloving that I will love you, India Arie saying she's got to get Back to the Middle, BEP asking Where's the Love, or Relient K rocking out about bipolar weather and grace. Or Father Abraham with twenty neighborhood kids who knew the end when we didn't.
    I find peace and comfort in these things, but I can't just stay there. I'm afraid if I try to share it I'll lose it. Yet I've found in Christ a person where the telos and praxis actually seem to meet - even if they don't meet yet in my own life. I've started to look in the mirror, and not just at the world. Though sometimes the world acts as my mirror.
    I've been having this trouble with reality, getting what I've always thought it was and what it actually is to meet. They don't. And so I'm trying to express that like I haven't really ever done before. Drawing writing singing dancing. I'm not super artsy. Yet these things have really anchored me this month. And in the art I'm able to better analyze this world around me. And I really like doing that.

State of the Mental Sarah (yeah, I'm mental!):
    History. Politics. Law. Different ways people have managed to live together without killing each other to extinction. Writing three of the truest sentences that I know. Defining what Africa's problem is and offering a solution. Hating myself for trying to do so. Hating myself for talking too little or too much during discussions about God and missions and sin. Laughing at myself for hating myself.

State of the Social Sarah:
    I don't like knowing that what I see in the mirror isn't what other people see when they look at me. And I can't make them meet. And I'm too off in my own world sometimes to notice. I love that one of the students is a constant mirror to me of what I can tend to be when I go too far in myself.  I love valued friends and talking passionately with them about politics and God or joking about boys and hair. Staying in touch with friends back home, missing them, loving them. My Ugandan family, I love discovering new things about them every day: sharp senses of humor, humble spirits, loud laughs and quiet smiles. Playing BS with my siblings and giving my sister backrubs and pestering my sister-cousin to teach me how to dance and making her laugh.
    My family back home. I love being able to say that I'm related to them. I love them. I love loving them. I'm so proud of them. I love knowing them better than when I left and so loving them all the more. I love them all.

Bezels to ponder
    Every day when I walk home I hold at least two dozen dirty little hands. Then I go home and love on the dirty little kitten with a broken paw. The kitten, my sister says, will maybe die. I think the similarities stop there, but I feel just as helpless. Not that I want to save them, but I want to see them as they are. Because they are not just dirty little helpless kids. They have names that I can't pronounce and families and futures. And I want to see that. But it's hard to see.
    Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.- James Baldwin, writer and civil rights leader.
    But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. - 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
    My friend's shirt reads "War is costly" on one side, and "Peace is priceless" on the other. It's true. But people value what they can make money off of selling.
    In Jinja, a young American man talks in Basogan fluently and jokes and laughs with men making metal trunks. He connects with them, and cares, but is still able to step out of it afterwards, without losing that care. Or, at least, that's how it seemed.
    When we join the dots between art and poverty, it helps breathe life into the poorest communities, restoring hope and igniting justice. This music has literally saved lives, and again I feel happy to be alive. – Martin Smith, Sojourners blog writer (1/29/09)
    After reading an article on the theology of missions that said the proof of the universality of the gospel of Christ is in missions. But, if the proof is in the pudding, then why does it sometimes taste so badly?
    Will they ever make a Grannie Barbie? I mean, honestly.
    " 'All men choose either compassion or…chatter…Those who have lost the capacity for listening, who cannot be there for others, are unable even to be truly present to themselves…'Compassion'…sums up the listening, responsive, agonizing receptivity of the prophet and the poet." – John Taylor, The Primal Vision
    When I was in Kampala sitting in the sun at the hip hop Hot Steps competition, I saw this funny bug flying around. Something was wrong with it, it's body was turned wrong, but it made me so happy though because it was shaped a little like a music note. That little bug just about made my day.

But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair – Relient K, Be My Escape

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some Stories of the Month

An Illustration of my over-all learning experience in the IMME headquarters
Geoff: Ah, YES. You guys… [silence, as we all turn around]
Me: What is it? [extended silence as Geoff looks thoughtful and smiles]
Geoff: I can't believe I haven't realized it before. JESUS is the gospel. And I've never let that be enough. It' all about Jesus! Ahh! [thoughtful silence]
Laura: Can I fix your collar?

A Better-Articulated Sampling of Tea-Time discussions
Ugandans don't like the rain. Mosquitoes make more babies when it rains. And it's wet. I used to think that was why they all disappear when it rains. Now I know better.
Suzan: In Uganda, when it rains people make babies. Is it like that in America?
Me: So…people make babies when it rains cuz there's nothing else to do?
Suzan: Yes, so they just make love instead. But what do Americans do when it rains?
Me: I think they're too busy making money to make love, even when it's raining.
Followed by a Suite Life of Zack and Cody high five with a passing friend.

A Window into my Home Life
So Michelle and I were sitting in our room talking about God and trying to figure out the line between pluralism and being open to how God works. Michael walked in and asked us if we know anything about manure. Because he learned about the chemical process for making it in school that day.

Why I share These
Because the gospel and collars, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and love-making, and God and manure just kind of come up side by side all the time. Proof that life isn't as nice and compartmentalized as we'd like. Plus, it's pretty hilarious. There may be funnier ones, but these are some of the more recent ones that came to mind to share.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tears and Laughter; a look in the mirror

It had rained the night before, and the earth still seemed hungry. Red earth gave way under my feet as I navigated the winding downhill path towards home. Vivacious green tendrils reached out as to caress my ankles, as a strange sound wound upwards towards the sky. A crying baby. I realized it had been crying for sometime before, but I hadn't noticed. And then a new sound, similar, but lower in tone, and with a jovial laugh at the end of each spiral. An older brother, maybe, mocking the cryer. Past the enormous tree, broken now by one of the first storms and resembling a dinosaur with its long trunk extending over the trail, picking my steps carefully along the ditches made by the few, brave boda boda men and their motorcycles. And now, from the right, another cry, eerily similar to the child but with a distinctive goatish vibrato.

And here's the thing. I don't know whether that kid was crying just because it was tired and finicky, or if it was sick and dying. We dramatize things here: if you slip, you die, when I greeted my sick roomie the other day I said I was glad she wasn't dead. It's funny. Except for that it's not, since that same day, when I asked my mom why she was so dressed up and she said one of her friends had died. She was going to her second funeral since I've been here.

And in the meanwhile, I can cry about sunburns and hurt feelings after short responses, when really all of this could be averted with a good laugh at the situation. It's a matter of choice; like when a kid falls, and you can see them deciding whether to laugh or to cry. But still, sometimes you've got to cry, when you look yourself in the mirror.

For me, I don't get it. Poverty and wealth, sickness and health, life and death. I mean, I get it, but I just don't get it. We read this guy, Garber, in The Fabric of Faithfulness, and he shares from a student's paper who describes my peers and I as the Beavis Generation: "Disregard for other living things (e.g., hitting frogs with a baseball bat) will be in. Taking responsibility for one's actions will be out…there is a whole new generation out there that completely understands all of this society's foibles. And can only snicker" (40-41).

But he also talks about meeting with other graduate students who want to help the world, but just end up weeping and crying out that nothing can be done, the world is just too broken. Garber says later that "the great religious heresy used to be making man the measure of all things; but we have come close to making man the measure of nothing" (54). Dr. Decker talks about the two stories our culture tells us, either that we're the only person that matters, or that nobody matters. The humanistic, world-conquering, do-no-evil man, or the people-killing evil-loving man. And you look your face in the mirror and see both of these everyday. But really it's this third, made-for-good but fallen and broken man that needs and has been given saving that's the truth.

Donald Miller starts the second chapter in Blue Like Jazz talking about how he would go to protests about the Congo, until one day a friend asked, "Do you think you could do something like that [rape, kill]?" And how he realized then either he was messed up, just like them and Hitler, even, or somehow he had to say he was better than them. He talks about how broken he felt everyone really is after that. Miller talks about how broken he and every single person are, and then he moves further:

I am not browbeating myself here; I am only saying that true change, true life-giving, God-honoring change would have to start with the individual. I was the very problem I had been protesting. I wanted to make a sign that read "I AM THE PROBLEM!"

He talks about how he would call for change in Africa to help the refugees with no home, while there was a great homeless ministry at his own church at which he never helped. That one hit home for me, because I've always kind of hated and feared the hypocrisy in myself that I haven't DONE a whole lot with my life yet, and even though I'm "just" a student, the excuse is a poor one. I'm all about the idea of reconciliation and mending broken relationships in community development as part of conflict resolution. And yet, at the same time, it's taken me going to Africa for it to really sink in how much I need to do this in my own life with a certain daddy that I love.

That made the ending of the chapter ever so much more relevant, as Miller shared from his own broken life, "I wanted to be over this, done with this. I didn't want to live in a broken world or a broken me….I put on the new Wilco album…" This reminded me of that same certain daddy of mine, and a certain Wilco song he likes to sing about trees and seeds. But Miller goes on:

I know now, from experience, that the path to joy winds through this dark valley. I think every well-adjusted human being has dealt squarely with his or her own depravity…Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror.

Funny how many mirrors there are in Africa, despite how there's hardly any mirrors.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I found the source of the mysterious ticking noise

If anyone has seen the ridiculously funny/ stupid YouTube video with the Harry Potter finger puppets and the “mysterious ticking noise” you’ll probably think that the blog title is funny. If not, hopefully you’ll think this story is funny 

Long story short, I did indeed find the source of the mysterious ticking noise. Actually, the noise was more like a… beep… beep…beep… but it was still very mysterious. We’ve had over three weeks of school now, and the whole time many of us have been wondering what the noise is. You hear it everywhere—in the classrooms, in the IMME room, in the dining hall, walking across campus. It seemed so strange to be in the heart of Africa and constantly hearing this electronic-type noise. Finally at one point last week I decided to ask Phil, one of the interns, if he knew what it was. After laughing at me for a little bit (its ok, I probably deserved it) he revealed the mystery. What is the mysterious beeping noise? A bird. Humorously enough, Phil even called it the “catchphrase” bird, which absolutely describes the sound that it makes.

As far as other exciting on-campus news…
Its been raining for a long time, and not just raining—pouring. I’m sitting in the IMME room watching the lightning flash at the same time as I hear the thunder pound because it is so close. We also have a rushing red river outside of the door, the remains of the red dirt road washed away. The rainy season is not supposed to be for another month or more, but I think it’s come early. The walk home should be fun.

This past weekend was a pretty eventful three days. Because of some classes that got rearranged earlier in the week, we didn’t have any classes on Friday which was incredible. Laura and I decided that because we had the entire day free it would be a great time to plan to make dinner for our family. Two other guys in the program live in the house right across the street, so we planned for a joint meal. Cooking for 16 with nothing but charcoal and firewood proved to be more difficult than we had bargained for, but definitely still just as fun (if not more!) By the end of the night we ate a delicious meal of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and banana splits for desert (Everything turned out great except that we had a few too many meatballs and not enough sauce so it ended up being more like sloppy joe sauce on top of spaghetti… but they didn’t know that) Our brother William like it so much that he not only ate two huge plates of spaghetti, but he wrote on a copy of the 2006 calendar on the wall: “best supper in the world” with the date and his signature next to it. I bet that calendar will hang for at least another two years.

Saturday, three of us decided to visit CMU, an orphanage in Mukono. It was a great day—we visited with Ruth, a German woman who with her husband founded CMU, helped some of the girls wash their clothes, ate lunch, and had the opportunity to sing with the kids and talk to them after lunch. At first the girls were really hesitant to let us help them wash (who would have known bazungu could wash clothes by hand), but after a while they began to open up a little more. We are looking forward to going back in the near future.

The rest of the weekend was also pretty eventful—while the rest of you enjoyed the Superbowl on Sunday, I went Saturday night with my brother William to watch a football (soccer) game. Laura and I walked in the room, immediately realizing that we were not just the only white people, but also the only girls. It was an experience, all of us in the same room watching the game on a single television, but it was also a lot of fun. Sunday four of us went into Kampala to meet a friend-of-a-friend of one of the girls here. It ended up being a great weekend, visiting the church that he attends and grabbing some pizza and ice cream before catching the matatu home.

This weekend the 16 of us on the IMME track are traveling to Rakai, a rural area of Uganda about five-or-so hours away. Our last trip to Jinja was great, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll try to post some more pictures soon!