Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Saturday Outing

We've been enjoying a nice, quiet, family Saturday today! After a breakfast treat of eggs and bacon we decided to have an outdoors adventure before settling in to a movie and book reading.

Every day we hear trucks drive by our house carrying rafters and kayakers down the hill to launch for their adventure down the Nile. When we heard the squealing brakes today we quickly got our shoes on and hiked down the hill to watch. Jonathan had a lot of fun testing out his new gum boots in deep puddles (we've had a lot of rain yesterday and last night), and the kids enjoyed playing in a kayak as we watched the troops get organized.

Monday (the 27th) is our 7 year wedding anniversary, and guess what?! We (Phil and I) are going rafting on the Nile (level 5 rapids)! Watching today got us really excited!! Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Talking the Talk

Before moving back to Africa we read so much about the many ways African culture differs from Western culture, and one of these is the African emphasis on community. Part of community-building in Africa takes the form of talking. Africans spend a lot of time talking with one another in a chatty sort of way, with lots of tongue-in-cheek sorts of humor. Bartering for purchased goods is, at least in part, a social event, getting to know people and becoming known, making friends and being a friend.

We have found that the Ugandans we have interacted with love to talk, to joke around and make fun and light of things. Even when asking for a job or demanding a bribe, these folks just want to talk and turn it into a fun conversation. It's a game. All the recommendations to Americans who travel in Africa is to play this game. When a neighbor asks for your shirt, don't be rude and just say “no” - say, “when my shirt has a little brother, I'll give it to you”. That sort of thing. There aren't a lot of distractions and entertainment options here, so you make up for it by playing the game of talk.

Well I've been a bit nervous about learning to play this game, as I've never been too confident as a quick, witty, or eloquent speaker. I remember praying about this specific thing during our orientation back in the States. I really feel that God answered that prayer when I got my way out of a traffic fine by having a lengthy, light-hearted and honestly fun conversation with the group of police officers that pulled me over. I was carring some steel pipes on the back of my truck and was crossing the dam when one of the pipes slipped out on the roadway! I furiously pulled over, loaded the pipe, tied it down, and drove off the dam, but evidently wasn't quick enough to avoid being pulled over by the police. One of the officers filled out the citation while we talked, but by the time we had finished our conversation (which mostly involved them making fun of me for 'driving dangerously') they explained that since I was apologetic for my wrong-doing they would let me off with just a warning – but perhaps I would bring them a soda the next time I passed the bridge. :)

Nile-View House

Apologies for failing to keep up with our blog recently!
Well we're settled into our home now, the Nile-View house. It has its quirks (very low water pressure in the bathroom so you can't raise the shower nozzle over your waist, immense and out-of-proportion hallway, and bats in the attic) but it is otherwise beautiful, quiet, peaceful. The garden is grand and has avocado, mango, papaya and jackfruit trees. Our neighbors have been sweet and very welcoming, and the Nile River Explorers launch their kayaks and rafts just down the hill from us, so we got to see them load up and start their adventure.

I've been taking our car to work every day, but Em has braved public transit to get around with the kids. One day she directed a local boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) driver to our house. Now she can call him anytime for a cheap ride anywhere in town. She wears Eva in the baby backpack and Jonathan rides in front of the driver. Not the safest way to travel, exactly, but the price is right.
We've started to know our neighbors and the folks from whom we buy a lot of groceries and other goods. It feels very good to know the fair prices for things now, so the stress of bartering is subsiding.

Our experience with churches has been interesting. We've gone to a new one each week to get a feel for what churches in Uganda are like and where God might be leading us to attend. We'd really like to worship in our own neighborhood, so this limits our selection significantly. This Sunday we're going to try an Anglican church just down the road. In Uganda there is a distinction between being a Catholic Christian, a Protestant Christian (Anglican) and a “born again” Christian (all non-denoms). Interesting, eh? So after having attended a “born again” church last week and confessing to the congregation that we were indeed born again, I'm wondering if we'll be questioned for attending a Protestant church.

It's good to be back out here on the internet again. We hope to be more regular with these posts and pictures.