Sunday, June 20, 2010

Never thought we'd make it....

[If you actually read all this, you deserve a candy bar.
Keep in mind I move into my apartment tomorrow (Monday) and
don't know how often I'll have time to update my blog.
This will hold you over for a bit ;) ]

Last Wednesday,
My plane departed from NYC at 7pm.
My plane landed in NYC at 1am, six hours later.

Yes, you did just read that correctly. During orientation last week, we were told over and over to "be flexible" in Africa. This is a skill I can only acquire with God's help--those of you who are planners (like myself) can sympathize. It's not terribly easy to be flexible ;) Well let's just say, I was tested on the flexibility thing before I even got to Africa.

Thankfully, I traveled with four other individuals (a team headed to Arua, Uganda). This photo was taken right before we embarked on our traveling adventure.
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It made our crazy adventures less stressful than if I had been alone. One thing after another went wrong....I still can't believe we were HALFWAY to Amsterdam when the pilot told us we had to turn back to NYC!

I'm going to steal part of Kevin's account of what happened (from his blog.) Somehow, we were able to keep smiles on our faces and laugh about the situation...
~~~~~~~
Wed, June 16 – 3:30 p.m. – arrive at JFK airport, except it was the wrong terminal. We then hauled all of our luggage to the end of the terminal, took a variety of elevators and hallways to AirTrane which led us to the correct terminal.
- 6:00 p.m. – depart JFK for Amsterdam
- 9:30 p.m. – realized an air conditioner unit on the plane had failed, causing us to turn around and head back to JFK (legal reasons, apparently)
Thurs, June 17 – 1:00 a.m. – arrive back at JFK and stand in a line to potentially receive hotel and food vouchers along with transportation to the hotel.
- 1:00 – 4:00 a.m. – stand in various lines trying to figure out how to reconnect our flight out of Amsterdam. Realized we were in a pointless line, and eventually received meal vouchers at a different kiosk. We then boarded a van to take us to our hotel, which just so happened to be overbooked. So another hotel is logical, right? Nope. The driver took us back to JFK briefly, then we took a 20-minute ride to our final destination, the Holiday Inn Express.
-12:00 p.m. – leave our hotel for JFK Take 2
-12:30 p.m. – arrive at JFK and stand in line for three hours to figure out how to reroute our flight.
-6:00 p.m. – leave JFK for a second go at Amsterdam (an hour later than the expected take off)
~~~~
Just a snippet of the three hour line mentioned above...
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I had to chuckle when I flopped into bed at 4:30am at the hotel in NYC...I looked at the clock and realized, "oh my word, I've been 'traveling' for 15 hours and am in the same city I started in! I've made no progress!" So after 52 hours (and four airports: in NYC, Amsterdam, Nairobi Kenya, and Entebbe Uganda) we finally made it to Kampala, Uganda!

The five of us with our new Kenyan friend (he was on our forever-ending NY flight).
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Yesterday was my first day in Kampala. This is my home for the next 9 months, and I'm still trying to process everything I'm observing. It was INCREDIBLY helpful to walk around the city with three other girls who are missionaries (from England, Korea, and Canada.) They've all been here for several months, so I'm trying to learn from them. Highlight of the day? Riding on boda-bodas! (A motorcycle taxi) You pretty much risk your life every time you take one (no helmets, darting between traffic), but I believe I will be taking one each morning to work. Something tells me I won't have a dull moment here in Uganda!

Here's a photo I snapped right after we hopped off the boda-bodas. Rachel (in blue) went back to Rwanda last night; she's a teacher there. Amy is heading home to Canada soon, but she'll be living with Grace and me for a few weeks.
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Downtown Kampala is crazier than any city I've ever been to. FIVE MILLION PEOPLE live in the city. I move into my apartment tomorrow (I'm not living in the heart of the city. How do I know? Because apparently I'll live on a dirt road with crazy horned cows that wander around on the road.)

I LOVED the craft markets we went to yesterday.
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I just meandered around, saying "olyotya" (hello) to the shop owners while using the five Lugandan words that I know ;) [Thank you, my sweet COTW kids!!]

We took public transportation to a delicious Indian restaurant on the top of a roof. My first Indian food, and it was in Africa--go figure. Oh, and I pretty much love the fact that Fanta costs 35 cents here!! (Fanta Passion is awesome--tastes like "passion juice" which is quite popular here.)

After dinner, we hailed a "private hire" taxi (these are safer to take at night, instead of cramming into a "taxi bus" which is a 15 passenger van that they often cram 20 people into.) The driver was sweet, bless his heart, but his car couldn't make it up the first little hill, and it was leaking fluid out the back. So we hopped out and took another taxi. Downtown traffic was insane....the taxi drivers will just turn off their cars in a traffic jam. We sat for 30 minutes at least once or twice.
And I learned NOT to hold a cell phone or a camera anywhere CLOSE to the window while riding in a car...it's quite possible someone will reach in off the street and steal it (it happened right before my eyes last night--the girl next to me had her camera taken out of her hands. kinda crazy. :/ )

This morning we walked down dirt roads to visit Watoto church (have you heard about the Watoto Children's choir? They're featured on Chris Tomlin's CD.) It was one of several Watoto church campuses. Interesting to see how westernized the service was..I enjoyed it, though.

I've enjoyed my time at the AIM missionary guest house but I look forward to seeing my new home (apartment) tomorrow! Enjoy a few photos I snapped today of the guest house. (AIM's central regional office is next to the guest house, and that's where we had orientation today.)

The guard on duty today. Her english was pretty good; as long as I talked slowly, we were able to converse. My first night here, our wonderful inn keeper told me "close your curtains. the guard is outside, and he'll be walking around..." I was thinking "wow, I think that was supposed to make me feel safe??"
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The cozy screened-in porch where we've eaten our meals this weekend.

I hope all of you back home are doing well!
Please be praying for me tomorrow as I move in and continue getting adjusted to things here. I'm also meeting my co-workers at Dwelling Places tomorrow.
I can honestly feel your prayers, and I can't thank you enough. I'm excited for this venture, but I can tell it won't be easy. Thanks for your support!

passionate devotion

I read this on the plane to Africa, and I wanted to share it with you all. The cause (the work) that I'm doing is important; however, He has to be at the center of it. He has to be my strength. I can't do this on my own, and I know myself--there will be days where I'm tempted to, but it will get me nowhere.

Our Lord's first obedience was to do the will of His Father, not to the needs of men;
the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father.
If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and come to the place where my love will falter;
but if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a doormat.
-Oswald Chambers/My Utmost/June 19

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Our two-day orientation at AIM's headquarters (in NY) was uplifting and refreshing. We were challenged to use our "kingdom eyes" instead of our natural eyes. While walking the streets of Africa, I want God to point out the people He wants me to encourage. I want to see the big picture and understand what's really going on--instead of looking with my natural eyes, as I'm used to doing.

Isaiah 61:1
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives,
and release from darkness for the prisoners.

That's what it's all about. That's why I'm here....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A video blog!

Monday = arriving at the mission's agency in New York for a two day orientation!
Wednesday = hopping on the plane!!
Thursday evening = arriving in Uganda!
[If you ever wonder what time it is in Kampala, where I'm living, just check out that nifty clock to the right of your screen.]

Thanks so very much for all your prayers. Keep 'em coming! :)

Enjoy a rambling video instead of a rambling essay :) Hmmm maybe I'll have to do this again, once I'm in Africa.

video