Thursday, April 28, 2011

[the last days...]

Can I freeze time, please? I am trying to soak up all the memories with my dear friends....but I wish I could just stop time for a bit.

I just have one more full week in Uganda. Where did the last 10 months go?? A week from now I'll be heading to the airport. I will spend two days in London with several girls that I went to university with. I'm eager to sightsee London, but Sarah (who's been in Uganda for 2 years!) and I may be a bit emotional after leaving. Should be an interesting trip ;) I will be arriving on American soil on Mother's Day...yes, my mom is more than slightly excited :) I'm looking forward to standing next to my best friend (who happens to be my SISTER!) on her wedding day next month...and it will be a wonderful time of reuniting with family friends and relatives.

I could write a novel here with all the thoughts floating in my head. But my eyes are glazing over, and I desperately need sleep. So for now, I'm just pleading with you and asking you to pray for me during this transition time. It's painful and emotional...goodbyes are not easy. I have a strange feeling that I'll be back at some point, but even if that happens it won't be the same. This chapter is over, and my future is unknown once again (ahhh story of my life!! Thankfully my Father is holding me and won't let go...)

I can't wait to sit down with some of you and share stories, photos, and videos about my experiences in Uganda. It would be an honor, so let me know if you want to get together! :)

Here are two photos from this past week. The first was taken tonight outside of my apartment complex. Meet my second family...what a blessing to have them as neighbors! (and yeah,I know, they're ridiculously beautiful!) I wish I could bring them all in my suitcase...words can't express how much I'll miss them. I love just sitting outside with them...watching movies with them...eating their yummy homecooked food :)...hugging the kids multiple times a day...etc. It's been wonderful learning about Rwandan culture from them. :) [bottom row from L to R: Mimi, Jimmy and Gloria who are ugandan children they're looking after, little Natasha. Top row L to R: Mom, Natasha (the mother to the young natasha), Ivan, Sylvia, me, Laticia, Frederich.]

The second photo was taken Easter weekend. These are the two darlings from Dwelling Places (Lucia in blue. Patricia in red) who stayed with me for a few days. We played HARD and had a blast, but wow their energy is endless and I was exhausted (I got awful food poisoning the day before, so I think my body was still weak from that.)



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[same language]


Everyone smiles in the same language. And for that I am grateful.

[My sweet Patricia. I can't wait to be "mom" for her and another one of our girls--during a long Easter weekend.]

Saturday, April 9, 2011

runaways...

I love “God things”—the type of situation that He undeniably orchestrated. Recently, I went to the post office here in the city to pick up a package that my friend, Janine, sent me (mail from America is the best!!) When I arrived, it was two minutes before closing time. Yet I was told to go home; the staff had already locked up and were heading out the door. I wish I could say I had a good attitude. Instead, I was grumpy and thought to myself, “It figures—the post office staff are as slow as snails when they’re helping their customers. But how convenient that at closing time, they lock up early and rush out the door.”

So I’m admitting to you that I had a crummy attitude. But in my defense, you have to understand that picking up a package at the post office here is not convenient. First, I have to pay my boda driver several dollars to take me to the post office. And it’s an hour round-trip from my house. If you know me well, you know that those are two things I don’t like to waste: time and money. : )

I had no choice but to turn around and go home. The next day, I was determined to get to the post office and pick up the package. I need to explain what happened that morning at work: two of our girls (recently rescued from the streets) escaped and ran away. No one knew where they were. We alerted the police, but that doesn’t help very much here. We lifted them up in prayer at our staff morning devotions, trusting God would protect them. (Nevertheless, we were worried because one of the girls has mental disabilities because of her drug use while living on the street.)

That’s an important piece to this story, so bear with me.

So after work, I went into the city to try for the SECOND time to pick up my package.

I was sick and also exhausted, so I was riding on the boda not paying attention to the thousands of people we passed by. As we got closer to the city, I looked up suddenly and saw two girls walking towards us. I still can’t believe that I recognized our girls after a quick second as we zoomed by them….(especially because I had only met them a few times briefly, since they were new additions.)

I asked my boda driver to pull over onto the side of the road, and I called my boss to double-check that the girls were still lost (at this point I was thinking “surely that wasn’t them….”). She encouraged me to go look for them. By this time, the girls had walked onto a different road, but we thankfully found them.

I brought them back to the office, thanking God that He had been watching over the girls (they had been wandering around with no food or water for nearly 12 hours in the hot sun…and had walked MILES!)

(No package for Ashley that day either ;) But I didn’t care….I couldn’t help but smile, realizing that God had a reason for me being sent home from the post office the previous day. He wanted me to head into the city and find the girls the next day!)

Quick update on the girl with the mental disorder: she refused to stay at the organization, and we can’t force her to stay. So that same evening, she packed up her things and went back to living on the streets. The next day when I was in the city, I heard a voice say “auntie…..!” and it was her. So crazy. I told her we were praying for her, and she should consider returning since it’s a safe environment.

A few days later, she realized she had made a mistake. She is now back with us at DP! Please pray that she decides to stay and get an education, receive the love we want to give her, etc.

On a completely different note, 4 weeks from tomorrow I will be waking up in my family’s home in Pennsylvania. That’s a lot to process, and I have incredibly mixed emotions—but that’s a post for another day. I’m excited to see my friends and family after nearly a year! But my heart begins to ache when I think about leaving my dear friends and kiddos here in Uganda. This truly feels like home in many ways.

I selfishly would love your prayers during this transition phase and that I get everything done that I need to in my remaining 4 weeks.

The goodbyes have already begun. Yesterday, I got to spend some time with this dear Rwandan girl who I met my first week in Uganda. She’s going to her father’s house for a holiday break, so I doubt I’ll see her again. Isn’t her smile endearing?

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Two videos!

Our kids are adorable. Period, end of story :)
Over the last two months, DP has rescued about 20+ new children from the streets of Kampala. And will continue to do so. They wanted to send their greetings. (They like stickers all over their faces, can you tell? :)

The second video is three of them speaking Luganda, and it basically translates to: "Auntie Ashley, we love you, because you are our friend. And you take our photos..." oh how they love the camera!


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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rwandan wedding!

Well this is a bummer. Since returning from my trip to Eastern Uganda 3 weeks ago, my stomach has been fighting something (each day, practically). After multiple tests this week, the doctor isn’t 100% sure but she thinks it’s a parasite. All I know is, SOMETHING is attacking my stomach and it’s no fun. I’m able to eat a little but not as much as usual, so I’m rather weak/lethargic. Plus I’m incredibly dehydrated—in the past two days, I drank 9 liters (more than TWO GALLONS) of water. And I’m still thirsty…bizarre.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying. I’m hoping I can go back to work on Monday feeling like a new person. And also, I appreciate Marsali who took me to the clinic…and also my other friends/co-workers who have popped over to my flat to pay me a visit: Lauren yesterday, Katy today, a surprise visit from Solomon/Richard/Dennis/Eddy this evening, and Maria tomorrow!

Now, for something more cheery: I recently attended a Rwandan wedding here in Kampala. My dear friend, Laticia, told me her cousin was getting married and asked if I’d like to come along. It was a lovely and very classy event. When the bridal party entered the reception hall, they were lead by a display of fireworks as well as traditional Rwandan dancers (incredible!) Not too shabby!

After about two hours of wedding speeches (which were in the Rwandan language which I don’t understand a word of!), Laticia and I slipped out and sat in the cool evening air. We talked a lot about our growing-up years, our families, etc. I appreciate friends like her who challenge me and aren’t afraid to ask blunt questions such as, “Ashley, what has made you sad in your life….” Definitely opens doors to some honest, deep conversations.

I brought my small point-and-shoot camera and my flip-cam, so here are a few photos from before and during the wedding.

Pre-wedding: Laticia and I (she's one of my closest friends here in Kampala, and I'm so thankful for her! She lives right outside my gate which is awesome :)

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Two of my lovely friends, Laticia (different shirt this time) and her older sister Natasha.

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The next 3 photos were taken by Laticia on my point-and-shoot camera which does not take impressive indoor photos. sigh.

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My other friend (the third sister) was a bridesmaid and she looked stunning! Sylvia's in the purple dress (I have no idea who the others are!)

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Phenomenal traditional Rwandan dancers. My favorite part of the reception.

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um I tried to give her the memo to make a silly face. Instead, she looks scared of my goofyness :)

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My friend, Natasha, and I in front of the lovely wedding cakes. [Don't you love her traditional Rwandan dress?]

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Oh and by the way, if you're the only white girl in a crowd of several hundred Africans, you can expect something unusual to happen---such as the two men (one was quite intoxicated w/ alcohol) who spent ten minutes trying to convince me that they needed a photo with me. They literally refused to take no for an answer, so when they called the wedding photographer over, I just forced a grin while he snapped a photo. The one man said he was a teacher in the village and couldn't wait to show them my photo....I definitely felt like an animal in the zoo. A good lesson for me to remember to have photo etiquette when I walk around with MY camera! It's important to be sensitive so that others don't feel that way.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inward battle [during worship]

This has a different feel from my usual blog post. It's not just about Africa....it's relevant across continents. So, read on...

By being completely honest and vulnerable with my next statement, I hope some of you who also struggle with it can breathe a sigh of relief and know you’re not alone! Lately, I have found myself VERY DISTRACTED in the very place where I should be completely consumed with the Lord: worship during church services.

People are perhaps one of the main things I'm distracted by! I’m very people-oriented, and I love people-watching. Always have, always will! So combine my personality with the fact that (in my church here in Uganda), many people arrive quite late—even when we’re 45 minutes into the worship. So if I’m not careful, I find myself looking around at all the interesting people….thinking “Have I met her before? She looks familiar….” or “aw, that child is all alone. I wonder if he’s a street boy.” or “oh no she didn’t—does she know she’s in CHURCH wearing THAT?” [I don’t want a petty, judgmental attitude anywhere—especially church. Yet, sometimes the thoughts sneak in :( ]

So then, as the scenario usually goes, I realize my thoughts are wandering when I should be WORSHIPPING. Feeling guilty, I silently scold myself, and I close my eyes to block out distractions.

But during the next song, my mind is flooded with other things….

*My future.

*What I’m going to eat for lunch after service.

*ugh, not this song again....I wish we sang more hymns!

*Men.

*That new book I want to read.

*Oh, I have to remember to tell my friend [insert name] about such and such.

*I wonder which pastor is preaching today.

None of those are BAD things to think about, in and of themselves! But I am truly annoyed with how easy it is for me to be distracted during worship.

I want to enter His presence and be consumed with His love, forgetting what and who is around me. Why does that seem nearly impossible when I’m standing in a room full of people?

I don’t know. But as I sit here, typing….I know I’m guilty of putting too much emphasis on myself and also on the music itself. Maybe I need to make time to meditate on scripture (and pray) before I get to church….If you have any thoughts, please share them here. Maybe ways that you try to block out distractions during worship?

I just read an INCREDIBLE article from Christianity Today that has changed my thinking regarding the act of worship. Take a few minutes to read it….the first half is a bit slow-moving, so I’m giving you permission to skip ahead to the “Reversing Field” section. click here to read it. <------

The article makes a great point that many Christians think that worship ORIGINATES with US. That worship moves from earth to heaven. But really, it’s the opposite:

The trajectory of heavenly worship begins with God and descends to earth.”

When we are standing in church singing to the Lord, we are part of a MUCH bigger picture….a much bigger chorus! We are so small. It’s not about us. We are joining with those in heaven as we worship our Creator. What a privilege!

The author of the article says it beautifully (after I read this, I called my roommate over and read it to her. All we could say was “WOW! I’ve never really thought about that before!)

"A day will come when our conflict and mutual discomfort over the church's worship will end. Until then we must muddle through the best we can by reminding ourselves that we are part of a much larger congregation—one populated by patriarchs and prophets, saints and angels, where we are invited to join a chorus that began on the first day of creation. The first notes were sounded by those who surround the throne in heaven. Their theme echoes through the rest of God's domain. All that remains is for us to add our voices to their song."

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Can’t have a post without a picture! Worshipping with people from other nations is a small glimpse of heaven! It was a blessing to watch our Children of the World choir kids praise their Savior while singing their little hearts out. (I can’t remember who took these photos...this was 2 years ago!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

[No longer] a statistic...

Did you know there are reportedly over 145 MILLION orphans in the world?

That's mind-blowing.

It's easy to read statistics like that and not be affected...

but then, one day, you find yourself in Africa...a half-naked little boy runs to you with his arms stretched high. You bend down and pick him up. He wraps his tiny, boney arms around your neck and stares into your eyes--communicating a silent, desperate plea. A plea for love.

Suddenly, everything changes.

This little boy is no longer a statistic.

His earthly father abandoned him. Even when the father WAS around, he spent all his money on alcohol and even gave the child alcohol. But there's Someone who's the Father to the fatherless. He hears their cry and will one day bring justice...

But You, Oh God, do see trouble and grief...
You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed....
[Psalm 10]

"Orphans are easier to ignore until you see their faces...hear their voices...
until you hold them in your arms. Once you're vulnerable enough to do that,
then everything changes." -David Platt
Last week, I visited an organization (SMILE Africa) in Eastern Uganda. My heart is still aching from what I saw there. Each day, they provide a safe place for over 200 at-risk children who come for food/bathing/etc. But at this point in time, the organization is only able to provide full-time care for a small number of those kids. The majority return to their homes each night; in many cases, their guardians abuse them whether sexually or physically. Not to mention their basic needs are not being met at home (lack of food, water, love, clothing, etc.) I was humbled and privileged to love on the "least of these" this week.

As Christians, I strongly believe it's our duty to love the unloved and extend a hand to the orphans. Do you realize that you were once a (spiritual) orphan? But your Father reached down His hand and rescued you from sin/death. Now it's your turn to offer these children hope in Christ and the cross.
[My lovely, new friend who helps look after these malnourished, abused babies.
Please pray for her and my other friends there--it is physically and emotionally draining.]


Monday, March 7, 2011

Unsure where I'm sailing [next]...

Let's sail away, past the noise of the bay
Let's sail away past the birth and death of the day

Let's sail away,
Take only what you need and leave the rest behind
Don't be afraid of where we'll go,
I promise you will be fine

Let's sail away floating weightless through the night
Let's sail away like a photograph, fading to all white
-"Tereza and Thomas"

Photo:
[Mombasa, Kenya]

Friday, March 4, 2011

[to love and be loved]

"We must know that we have been created for greater things,

not just to be a number in the world...

we have been created in order to love and to be loved."

-Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa lived love OUT LOUD! But it wasn’t her original idea when she says we are to love others. My Savior commands it in His word, so that’s what I strive to do. I don’t want to waste my life being grumpy and holding grudges (although trust me, there are definitely people I struggle to love and be patient towards!)

Loving with God’s love is POWERFUL. It can transform someone. I have literally witnessed the “before” and “after” stages w/ some of these kids. I’ve watched hurting, introverted children recognize that the staff at Dwelling Places (and God!) love them. They now are joyful and engage with the other children. Never underestimate the difference that love can make…always be willing to wrap that child in your arms and give them a hug. Always be willing to encourage and point out peoples’ strengths.

At DP, we are currently rescuing children off of the city streets. They’re now living at our transitional rehabilitation home (down the street from the office.) Since I spend my days working in the office, I don’t get to engage with our kids as much as I’d like. So I’ve been trying to stop by the home and visit with the kids several nights a week when I get off work.

On Tuesday, I brought along some nail polish for pedicures (thanks to my dear friend, Amy, who sent them from the U.S!) The girls went CRAZY with excitement. Their toes never looked better : ) Before I left, they wanted to return the favor….what’s the result when you have FOUR young kids simultaneously painting the nails on each limb of your body? Let’s just say I looked like a (very pink) nail salon threw up on me! And I loved every minute of it. (No photos were taken, unfortunately ;)

My beautiful, talented friend (Maria) and I stopped by to visit the kids this afternoon. We had a blast playing Duck-Duck-Goose (which many of them have NEVER played before!) and just lovin’ on the kiddos. I snapped some photos that I want to share with you.

Don’t their smiles melt your heart?? It’s hard to believe that even just a few weeks ago, they were facing hardships such as: abuse, struggling to find food, not having a place to sleep, and the list goes on.

[Juma, age 4. I'm smitten, I'll admit it...]

[Holding sweet Patricia and also Shadiya....and half of Daniel!]

[I believe this cutie just came last week, and I haven't yet learned the names of all the brand-new ones :/ ]

[Juma again....he was toting around baby Silas who's about 9 months old! Too cute.]

[I caught Silas in an adorable, candid moment...]

[Could their smiles get any bigger? These two (like MANY of our DP kids) actually attend a nearby boarding school; this was a few weeks ago during their break.]

[Playing Duck-Duck-Goose today! Well, certain individuals were distracted by the camera. My dear friend, Maria, is in the striped shirt on the right; she has recently started volunteering with us. She's so talented and great with the kids.]
[Patricia again--this little girl melts my heart. Note the dust on my toes--I will NOT miss that aspect of Uganda ;) ]

Please keep these precious children in your prayers this week, as they are still adjusting to life at DP. Pray that it soon begins to feel like “home”; pray that all 20+ of them get along and love each other like family (Since MOST of them are fresh-off-the-streets, they’re hitting and punching each other if they don’t get their way.) And consider sponsoring a child; let me know if you’re interested!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

do you agree?

“Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.”
[Photo: Old town Mombasa, Kenya]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who says?

Who says you can't be a blessing to children in Uganda from your living room in America?

A few weeks ago on my blog, I explained how my friend, Lauren, decided to contribute to Dwelling Places. She's been making/selling these purses (<---click there to go to the website and order! :) 100% of the money ($20 per purse) goes to DP. Thank you SO much to everyone who has ordered one so far....when you wear it, don't be shy--please spread the word about the beautiful children at DP and encourage others to get involved (sponsor a child, buy a purse, etc.)

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[Lauren and her adorable son.....he doesn't do the sewing, but I'm sure he cheers her on :) ]

The money has been accumulating in my bank account, and I've been waiting for an opportunity to use it...the opportunity came this week!

I found out that some of our kids were unable to go back to school on Monday (here in Uganda, the holiday break lasts until Feb.) Why did they have to stay behind when the rest of their friends went back to school? Because they didn't have sturdy shoes that the school requires of them (they were either lost, stolen, etc over holiday break.)

I checked my bank account and had the PERFECT amount (thanks to everyone who bought purses!) so that was all the confirmation I needed. One of our staff members went into the city that same afternoon and used the money to buy shoes for the kids.

Because of your generosity, those kids were able to start school today instead of sitting around for a number of days wishing they were studying again. The kids were SO happy when I told them about Lauren's purses...I gave them a serious talk about how they MUST be responsible with these shoes because God has provided them (and someone in America spent HOURS making purses to make it possible :) They nodded in agreement and clapped enthusiastically when they found out they'd be starting school today.
[The kiddos!]

Please let this encourage you--you CAN be a blessing to children in Africa even without traveling here. One small, creative idea may spark a way that you can get involved with ministries like DP even from your own home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Now that I have seen... [Rwanda]

Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead.

I will tell the world,
I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them,
Albertine
Brooke Fraser//"Albertine"

Singer/song-writer, Brooke Fraser (you may know her from Hillsong United) traveled to Rwanda and met a young girl named Albertine, who was orphaned by the 1994 genocide.

Brooke was so deeply touched that she wrote a song to share with the world...I am echoing her thoughts: "I will tell the world...." I met a young man who miraculously survived a very violent, bloody event during the genocide. One of the most moving, powerful testimonies I've ever heard. And I've been sharing his story with friends/family back home, co-workers and friends in Uganda, etc. Sharing such stories (especially through the use of media) is a great reminder about the world that exists outside of our bubbles...With his permission, I hope to blog again soon and share his story with you all.

This music video was recorded in Rwanda, and having been there two weeks ago I absolutely loved watching it. I hope you do as well!

(Random side note: 2 minutes and 28 seconds into it, you'll see a bicycle boda. I rode on the back of one through the gorgeous, Rwandan countryside. The hills were a bit scary, but I got some great photos and Flipcam footage! The first two photos below were taken while I was on the back of the bike...)



Two young friends, fetching water in gerry cans...not an easy task, especially in heat.

10,000 people were murdered here at this church during the Genocide.
Today it is a Genocide memorial site.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

arm hair, hammocks +sunsets

Hope you all are enjoying your Sunday--perhaps my favorite day of the week here in Uganda. My new Sunday schedule consists of being away from the house from 9am until 7pm, so it's exhausting but very rewarding. Church is always encouraging and convicting (I have never loved a church more than this one). Then I grab lunch at a local joint, followed by spending the afternoon (until 6pm) at nearby slums helping with a ministry to street boys.

We play games, help them wash their clothes (and give them the opportunity to bathe), teach them about the Lord, love on them (my favorite part--tons of hugs every week!!), etc. I was asked by my friend to lead a small group of boys (ages 11-17), and I can already tell I'm going to LOVE it. Today I had a muslim teen in my group; I hope he comes back, because it's an awesome opportunity for him to see Christ in others. Please pray for wisdom for me!

Humorous moment of the day: as I was about to head home, I felt some of the young boys pulling my arm hair! "What are you doing?," I exclaimed. "Auntie, to remember you....to remember you...." So silly! They're not used to seeing arm hair (ugandans have such smooth arms!)

Highlight of my day was the following situation: I was walking with a few of our boys, and a man rolled down his car window and tried "warning" me by saying, "Those street boys--they have bad manners." My response: "I love them. They need LOVE and JESUS." Then one of the boys walks over, sticks his head in the window and tells the man, "I'll pray for YOU!" That put the man in his place! Something we're telling the boys must be sinking in :)

Ok, on another note...

Many of you back home are bundled up in scarves, boots, and skinny jeans. To be honest, I'm jealous--I miss the snow and the cold weather! But I can't complain, especially because we've had some beautiful days here in Uganda recently (65-70 degrees F). Some of my Ugandan friends have been walking around wearing jackets, scarves, and gloves (yeah I'm serious right now...) but this American is embracing the "chilly" weather in capris and tshirts.

This past Friday after work, I had a few hours to relax at home before going out with some friends (every Fri there's live jazz music at a fancy shmancy hotel about 45 minutes from my flat. Can not WAIT to go back. It was phenomenal to enjoy a classy place for freeeee.)

I immediately hung up my new roommate's hammock on our veranda and was asleep within a matter of several minutes. Before I knew it, I was joined by my darling neighbor girl (her mom is the one who cooked those grasshoppers for me back in Nov!) She was overjoyed when I pulled her into the hammock with me....

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Welcome to my veranda: my favorite place to drink coffee, think, journal, people-watch (there are always neighbors outside!), etc.

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I'm incredibly spoiled by our fourth-floor view of the neighborhood and nearby hills (Last week I moved to a flat upstairs, so it's an even better view!)

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Light, subject, composition--SHOOT!

You know the classic game "rock, paper, scissors--SHOOT", right? Well I'm titling this blog post (which is about photography): "light, subject, composition--SHOOT!" Ok it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but it's 1:30am so my sleepy self thinks it's quite clever.

Hopefully you caught the "shoot" pun!

A photo always contains a subject, composition, and light (the word photography comes from two Greek words, which translated means "drawing with light"--just incase you were wondering!)

My goal of the photography class: to equip the 10 Ugandan teens with techniques/concepts which will help them take better photos. I didn't want to bog them down with lots of technical information regarding ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc ("Bueller....? Bueller....?") so instead I took a practical, artistic approach and decided to focus on the creative aspects. I hope I stretched their brains and got them to think outside the box so that next time they take a photo, they really give it thought.

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A friend of mine is doing a photo advocacy project with these teenagers (who are actually part of the Dwelling Places program); the teens are photographing their world and telling their stories in the form of a book (the final product). It's my dream to one day do an in-depth photo project with Ugandan kids/teens, but it will take a LOT of thought, planning, and purpose--so it won't be happening in the next few months. For now, I'm just excited I could spend a few hours sharing my passion with some young people.

I couldn't have asked for better students. When I entered the "classroom," I was unsure what their response would be....and I was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm! Not only did they have incredible eye contact while I spoke, but as I spoke they also asked various questions about lighting, the rule of 3rds, converging lines, etc. One of the biggest things I stressed to them was: "Please please please do not be afraid to get up close and personal with your subject!" to which one of them replied, "But Auntie, what if it's a dangerous subject--like a lion!?" Those are the Q's you get while teaching a photography class in Africa.

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We spent some time outside so they could practice the various techniques I taught them, and I couldn't stop smiling as I watched them get creative and have fun taking photos. As they photographed various things (and each other!) they ran over to me--they showed me their camera, and said, "Auntie look at this photo! What about this one?" and I did my best to point out something positive (many of the photos were excellent) while also offering constructive criticism so they can improve.

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I giggled quite a lot when I saw one of the boys grab an innocent chicken passing by; the boy lifted the chicken high above his head and then took a photo. He certainly took my advice seriously when I spoke about taking creative angles of the subject! :)

My point-and-shoot camera has not been used in a while, but I brought it along today and handed it over to one of the kids to use. I'm not sure which child took this photo of their friend, but I'm proud of them for demonstrating the "rule of thirds" which they learned about in class. (Placing the subject on a horizontal or vertical "third"--not in the middle of the photo.)

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Friday, January 14, 2011

This One's for Africa...

As Shakira sings in one of her hit songs, "this one's for Africa...." Lauren, a friend that I've grown up with, is a talented and creative individual. She's sewing purses and giving 100% of the proceeds to Dwelling Places (the ministry where I'm volunteering in Uganda.)

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Check them out--how cute are they? And Lauren will even customize the lining of the purse for you; you can choose the pattern that you want! Click here to visit her Etsy site. This would make a fantastic gift (for you or a friend ;) and hey, you're helping street children in Uganda as well! So no need to feel guilty while you shop.

I am so touched by Lauren's kind heart and generosity, and thank you to everyone who has already purchased a purse!

On an unrelated note, one of my favorite things about my daily life in Uganda is riding boda-bodas ("bodas" for short.) They're definitely not safe, but when you're caught in a traffic jam in the city you are VERY thankful for bodas (they weave in and out of the traffic--no need to wait :) Another missionary took this photo when he visited Kampala. This is in my neighborhood, on my way to work. You can't see his face, but that's Robert--my trusty boda driver and friend. I honestly am going to go through major withdrawal when I'm back in the states--bodas are a blast! (hmmm maybe I'll have to buy a motorcycle ;)

ashbodacp

I just returned yesterday from 9 days in Rwanda which was fantastic. I'm way behind on blogging and sharing photos with you all---I still have lots of great shots from Kenya!