Sunday, December 20, 2009

Introduction Ceremony

Yesterday we attended an introduction ceremony for a professional acquaintance here in Jinja. In Uganda, as in many African countries, when a person marries, he marries a family – not just a person. The introduction ceremony the setting for negotiation about the bride price, as well as for the two families to formally get to know eachother. There were speeches, song-and-dance numbers, presentation of gifts, a meal, and a fashion show in which the bride and her aunties appeared in at least three different beautiful dresses each.

Emily and I were asked to appear in traditional Buganda attire. I borrowed this Kanzu from one of my masons, and Emily had these dresses made for her and Evelyn. Em found this killer tie-dye "fancy shirt" for Jonathan in the market that he was thrilled to wear.

Construction Update

Here are some recent pics from the site. The construction has been going very well, though slowly, and I am getting glimpses in my imagination of the final product.

This is the Kitchen & Administration Building slab. We begin the wall construction in January.

And here is the first of the two Dormitories. The pattern of upper and lower windows depicts how both the upper and lower bunks on each bed get their own window. The solar power system for half of the center will be mounted to the back side of this dorm's roof.

These are the custom truss hangers that we had fabricated at a shop in town. They are situated and tied in place, ready for concrete placement. I actually didn't sleep well the night before we cast this very critical concete ring beam. Cast-in-place hangers like this are a foreign concept here, which made it both exciting to demonstrate and also stressful because the responsibility for the success of its application lies entirely on me.


We had the great privilege of going on safari in Masai Mara with our family! These pictures pretty much speak for themselves, but I will say that our overwhelming impression after seeing the variety and creativity of the wildlife on safari was that God is amazing. Such imagination!

[Sweet shot, right? Em's pretty proud of this picture.]

Nursing baby elephant.

In our safari truck.

We watched these two male lions fighting over a female and her kill!

Eva and the Lioness!

We walked right up to these three white rhinos. Amazing.

With Dad, Mom and the chef at a delicious lunch buffet.

My sister, Rebecca, with her husband Kerwyn and kids Caleb, Zachary and Madeline. Thanks for coming all the way from CA! We love you and miss you.

So special for our kids to spend this once-in-a-lifetime week with their cousins!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I found when I came home...

Jonathan decided Evelyn needed a trim while I was gone! Phil wrote and told me about it and said she looked a bit uneven...somehow seeing it in person was a lot more dramatic than hearing about it over email. The funniest thing is that she walked around like this for a garage sale, church, friend's houses...before I got back and fixed it. For a long time she has been talking about growing her hair looong like a princess...I guess princess hairstyle will have to wait!

Trip to Florida

Last week I went to Florida! For months I had been dreaming about going to one of my best friend's wedding, but thought it was impossible seeing as I was half way around the world. Then a few weeks before the big event God started opening doors for me to go and confirmed this gift to me in amazing and detailed ways. We decided I should go ahead and do it! Phil stayed home with the kids for ten whole days. He did a great job! One of the best things for me (besides the wedding which was one of the most fun and romantic weddings I've ever been to) was getting to stay with my parents. It was so much fun going shopping with my mom, eating steak out on their deck and playing tennis with Dad! I also got to go out for coffee with a dear friend and spend some time with my Grandma and Aunt Mary!

I got home yesterday and it's good to be back. The kids are as cute as ever and I feel refreshed and ready for the next 7 months...or however long we're here!
Here are some pictures from last week...

Elisabeth and me an hour before the wedding.

One of my favorite parts of a wedding is watching the grooms face as he watches his bride approach.

My other favorite part of a wedding!

The reception was beautiful and a lot of fun. They hired a professional square dance caller!

Professionally grilled steaks on the patio with Mom and Dad.

KFC with Grandma and Aunt Mary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa

Last week we had the wonderful privilege of visiting Mom and Dad Greene in Bomet, Kenya (Tenwek Hospital). The 10 hour bus trip seemed to go by quickly...even for the kids! When we arrived at our bus stop, Jonathan proclaimed loudly, "We made it!! We're here and it only took ONE DAY!!" (All of our other significant travels over the last year have all taken an average of 3 days to reach our destination!)
After being 8 months away from family, it was a huge blessing to see our children reunite with their Grandparents, and to see Mom and Dad also getting to know and enjoy the kids in the new and fun stages they are in. We so enjoyed all of Mom's cooking and baking. The days were filled with fun hikes and frisbee, and the evenings found us playing cards around the table while the children slept under piles of blankets (it was cold there!). Here are some fun pictures from our 5 days with them. We're already looking forward to our Christmas visit!

Bus ride from Uganda to Kenya.

We arrived on Thursday night, so Dad had to work the next day. He was able to come home for tea, though, and the kids loved seeing him in his "costume".

Jonathan was very interested in all of Grandpa's tools he carries around.

Off to do some more surgery. Bye, Grandpa! See you later!

Saturday we had a fun hike to see the falls. Tenwek mission station and hospital have hydroelectricity generated here.

Eva loves being read to. Here's a Sunday special, "Goodnight Gorillas"

Mom was such a servant to all of us - cooking amazing meals that we'll not soon forget, and cutting all of our hair!

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the great week! We love you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pictures from the site

Check out the latest pics from the construction site!

We had a very successful floor-slab concrete-casting day today. The pictures mostly speak for themselves, but I'll explain a bit.
Here is how the mixing is done. Yes, it is as back-breaking as it looks.

This is mostly a slab-on-grade floor with a small portion that is a concrete lid for a mini septic tank. In this picture you can see opening where a manhole cover will go. To the right of that are two empty cement bags, filled with mud, that are place-holders for the "squatty potties" (low to the ground porcelain toilet bowls) that will be placed in them later. Once this concrete has cured, we will pull out the mud and paper bags to prepare the opening for the toilet bowl.

This is a segment of a banana tree trunk that has become a place-holder for a shower floor drain. When we prepare to place the finish floor, we'll set the floor drain in mortar. This clever use of the banana trunk was our foreman Fred's idea.

And here's a group shot. The gentleman in the middle of the back row with the white and brown shirt is our foreman Fred, with whom I have worked very closely. The white guy in the front row is Danny, an EMI intern from Alabama who is helping us out. This entire crew has been very fun to work with.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A photo tour of our house

I tried uploading a video tour of our house, but the internet here couldn't handle it. So, use your imagination to piece these pictures together and you'll get a bit of an idea of what our home is like here!

Welcome to our house! The view as you step into our front door - the kids love running up and down our awesome hallway! Huge windows line the wall to the right, and three doors are on the left...

Door #1 - our bathroom. Do you love our toilet handlebars? The people who lived here before us had their elderly mother living with them, so we have all kinds of fun features like this.

Door #2 - master bedroom. I sewed the curtains and bedspread from local material.

Door #3 - the kids room. Jonathan feels super cool sleeping on the top bunk. Since this picture was taken, Phil made an extension railing that spans the whole length - now I sleep better at night! The kids and Phil cozy up on the wicker love-seat every night for Bible stories before bed.

Kitchen and Dining Room area.

Living room/porch - to the right there is no wall...just screen. To the left is the door to the guest room...
Living room...view from guest room door.

Guest room and bathroom. We'd love to have you come stay with us!

View of the main house looking from the living room toward the front door. The door next to the fridge leads to the pantry (where a fat rat has been getting into everything lately!). In the evenings Phil and I usually sit in those wicker chairs and read or watch a dvd on our laptop together.

Here's the view from our dining room window...lovely!