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 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....


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


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.)


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 ;)


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!