Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sports, bites, Deborah, and owning women

Been busy, busy, busy.  Here's the latest haps!

So Sam and I went to another Uganda Cranes game the other weekend. We met up with Holly when we were there which was a good life choice on our part.  Both ladies are a grand time. We got our faces painted, partied on the field after the win and had the best of times. 
 I just got back from teaching at a secondary school called St. Stephens.  It's a really cool school and the students have been great.  We teach leadership and empowerment classes--and yes, last week we had the privilege of teaching sex ed.  Good times! haha However, our students are ALWAYS late to class.  So...this is Ryan, just waiting for our students to arrive. haha
 Awkward moment of the day.  What started out as a harmless mosquito bite turned out to be a month of a crater on my left shin.  It has legitimately been a month of this hole in my leg.  I have swindled an antibiotic so the infection will cease and desist.  I think it should start healing up now.
 For those of you who remember me posting about Deborah.  This is her!
 We met her in the Namatala slum.  She asked us if she could go to school and had very protective, body language.  We are still trying to get to the bottom of who is taking care of her and how they got her.  But she's now in school, a team member bought her a school uniform, and I went by on Sunday to drop off a math set for her (rulers, pencil, pencil sharpener, etc).  There are definitely still things to be done and progress to be made.  But she is in school and her smile is much easier to come out these days.
 At St. Stephens, we had a little down time.  I heard a bunch of hammering in one of the rooms close by.  I went to hear where the tapping was coming from and alas, a bunch of boys are sitting on the ground hammering, chopping and chiseling away.  AKA  Art class.  They're pretty good actually.  This is one of our students named Isaac.  We love him.
 Another student carving away.  He's more at the beginning of his project.  Isaac (the one pictured above) had already been working on his sculpture for two weeks.  This guy (below) was just starting today.
 This week we taught classes about development and empowerment.  I am clearly just creepily observing during Sams part, but we take turns teaching.  She'll teach for a half hour and then I'll pick up.  It's a lot of fun actually.  It keeps us on our toes trying to figure out effective ways to keep them engaged, figure out how much they're retaining and able to apply, etc.  I love it.
The three other volunteers that were up at St. Stephens and I had some interesting conversations during our time there.  I've concluded that living in Uganda kind of feels like I've time traveled.  Some of the things that they do just seems ...umm...old school?  Like, I can't believe there are still societies that function that way--it's something that I learned about in History class, but not how life has been for me.

For example, the women here are not equals with the men...at all.  I've noticed it more and more the longer that I live here.  It's odd and I find that it makes me a little feisty. haha I've had several men try to put me in my place a little bit (or just treat me how they would any other woman) and I can't help but not stand for it.

When I was at St. Stephens I was talking to a man in the village and he was telling me about marriage here in Uganda.  He said that when a man and a woman get married, there's really only one person--the man.  The man owns the woman.  I tilted my head to the side and said something like, "Really?  Owns. Like a chicken or a cow?"  He kind of laughed but didn't comment on it.  He continued to say things like the man picks the names of the children to remind his wife that he's in charge.  She wears a ring on her finger to show that she's owned.  Ugh.  I just looked at him and said, "But why?  Why do YOU own HER?  I don't understand.  I have ten fingers, two eyes, and a brain just like you.  Why do you think you should own someone like me?"  It's hard because I don't think we get through to them very easy on this point.  Like I said, it's like being back in time.  I still try anyway.

Tomorrow we're going to the womens groups that we've been working with and we get to see our bead ladies!!  We're working with some women in Namatala to start their own income generating project making beads and necklaces.  I'll try to take pics tomorrow so you can see.

Lastly, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all of the those who contributed to our Indie-gogo site.  We were able to raise ALL of the money for the medical clinic and water filters.  My heart is so full and I thank you and love you for having such big hearts and contributing to help make these peoples lives better.  Seriously, from the bottom of my heart, Thank you!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gifts

Whether I'm souvenir shopping or shopping for Christmas presents, I think it's fun...and sometimes stressful coming up with the perfect gift.  You know, the type of gift that causes the receiver to smile really big because it's perfect--well thought out, personal, etc.  I don't claim to be amazing at it--my sisters and mom are much better than I am at this--but there's something so satisfying as the giver to see that you did good.  They're happy.  They love it.

My fears before committing to a gift purchase usually run through my head in the form of one of these questions, "Are they going to actually use this?  Or will it just sit in their closet?  Are they going to LOVE it?"  Naturally as a good intentioned gift giver, I want it to be beneficial to them, something special to them, something they'll cherish.  (Allow me to repeat, I'm not a rock star at this.  But I enjoy trying.)

The reason I bring this up is because of church today.  It was such an beautiful day for me.  I really got a lot out of the talks and have a list of things that I'd like to change and improve.  It was lovely.  I was sitting in sacrament meeting just "Mmm"ing the crap out of one of the talks (because it was spiritually delish) and I stopped to think about my gratitude for the Holy Ghost.  I love the warmth and peace that comes from the Holy Ghost.  I sat there, listening to the talks, feeling so happy and just got swept away in my thoughts of how incredible it is that we can be guided, prompted, comforted and taught by a member of the Godhead.

I was thinking about how blessed we are, as members of the church, to have the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I thought about what a great gift-giver God is.  How incredibly well thought out and sweet of Him to give His children something so beautiful and valuable.  It's the perfect gift.  It's nothing to disregard, throw in the closet, etc.  I wonder if, like me, God is happy when He sees us using the gift we were given--appreciating it, valuing it, thankful for it.

It just made me want to do better at valuing the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life.  I want to work harder to be worthy of his promptings, to have him with me all of the time so that I can always be instructed by him.  God knows us all and loves us so much.  Of course He knows what to give us, what would make us the happiest--He knows what gifts will give us a dopey grin on our faces, that will be perfectly thought out, and that we'll never forget.  I just felt so happy today and love Him so much for giving me something that makes me happy and makes my life more colorful.  It really is the perfect gift.  I love it.  It just made me want to better qualify myself for its influence to truly show my appreciation for what I've been given.  That's all.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

VIDEOS--dancing and singing with the kids

So I have provided a couple of videos for your viewing pleasure.  I asked my dad what he wanted for Fathers Day and he told me he wanted a video of me dancing with the kids.  So...here's one from a week or two ago.  It was the week we were carrying sand and rocks everyday to help build the village. The kids had a little dance sesh at night and little Brenda (in the blue dress) wanted to teach me some of her moves.  So HAPPY FATHERS DAY!
video
Here's a little shout out to my kid sis Kenzie.  The first day working in this village when the kids were helping us carry rocks back and forth during their recess I thought, "This is soo sweet of them.  Now how can I make it fun for them?"  So I tried to think of a song with simple lyrics that they could learn.  Naturally (being sarcastic, of course) the Bieber song "Baby" came to mind.  Kelsey and I would sing a line at a time of the verse and they'd repeat it but they know the chorus very well.  It was fun to have some way to play with them even though we were all carrying heavy rocks.

I didn't realize until AFTER the filming of this song that they were playing with my camera case the whole time. haha That's why only Marcy (the girl on the left) is the only one singing the verses. haha But they all know the chorus which I find both hilarious and darling at the same time.  Enjoy!  Bieber in Africa! 
video
Aannddd because I cannot get enough of the kids dancing, here's a video of some of my tiny friends shaking it like a wet border collie.  Love you all!  Hope you have a great weekend.
video

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Health Clinic update, Hunger Games chit chat, Cranes Games take 2

Random things to fill you in on:

  • The health clinic is coming together!!  We're so so excited about it.  They've got the walls pretty much up but...they ran out of bricks.  So they got the brick machine back, made more bricks and should have the roof ready to be put on by Saturday.  How cool is that!?  Some of the group will go up on Monday to help put the cement floors in.  It's looking good and is going to impact so many wonderful peoples lives.  I'm so excited to see the finished product.  I'll obviously keep you posted.
  • I went to another Uganda Cranes football match.  It was fantastic.  First of all, we hit up some shopping beforehand.  We just bought a couple of little Africa decorations for home.  The game was so rad.  We played Congo and won 4 to zip.  The crowd went nuts and ignored the "no spectators on the field" posted on the jumbotron.  Tons of people ran onto the field and the sprinklers came on and people were dancing.  I was hesitant to get involved because we always draw a crowd.  But after the crowds died down a bit, we climbed down onto the field using some scaffolding and partied for a bit.  It was a wonderful little Saturday outing.  Loved it.  All of it.
  • You guys!  I finished reading the Hunger Games!  I won't tell you how long it took me to conquor that book, but longer than any true fan should take.  I loved it!  The ending left me hanging and I freaked out for a sec...but never fear, the last two books of the series were packed in my bags.  I'm now into the second one a wee bit and am loving it.  
  • I went to St. Stephens (a private secondary school about an hour away from where we live) and helped teach the leadership and empowerment classes.  It was really cool.  I love teaching and I love being around that age group.  We were working with kids ages 15-18 (but some are a bit older, up to the age of 25).  I had to teach Sex Ed classes which was a solid good time.  Be jealous, be very jealous.  It's not that any of us are specifically qualified to teach these courses but we care about the people, see needs, and research and prepare.  I was surprised by both how much they know and don't know.  They ask questions that make it seem they've done experimenting but it's clear that's all they know--what they've experimented with.  It was eye-opening that these kids are so involved in something they're truly not mature enough to handle, but an awesome opportunity to help teach them about it.  
  • Ironic that I didn't finish the Hunger Games until I lived here in Uganda.  Frequently, since living here, I've thought to myself how much where I live seems like District 12. (be prepare for dorky comments to follow.  Comparing my life to the Hunger Games.  Ready...go!)  The frail people, tattered clothes, living day-to-day, no electricity, the food that is flour mixed with water, etc.  Even up at the village where I was teaching classes, we volunteers pulled our food out of a bucket at dinner time and rationed what we'd have to eat for the next few days.  Some pieces of bread, a couple of tomatoes and an avocado.  It's just been interesting reading it here.
  • P.S.  Speaking of our bucketed food goods.  Have you ever tried putting avocados and tomatoes on a piece of bread?  Delicious.  
I have videos and pictures to post but it'll have to wait.  Sorry my blogging has been subpar lately.  I've been super busy but I'll be better.  Love you oodles!  Kisses from Uganda,
 Mals

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Physical labor, happiness, and more beautiful babies...

The last few days here have been INCREDIBLE! We went to Bunabuyoka Monday-Wednesday. I don't know how to accurately express how beautiful and fulfilling the past few days have been. We go to this village at the beginning of every week (usually just Monday and Tuesday however) to work on the construction of a medical clinic. We share twin mattresses, eat posho and play with the darling children in any down time we have. I posted a BUNCH of pictures and hopefully a vid (if it works) so here's the latest and greatest of the medical clinic at Bunabuyoka.

This little girl is named Damalie. She's beautiful. I can't get over how beautiful she is. She's pretty shy but she warms up to you. She has a tiny little voice and if you start singing a song that she knows, she'll quietly sing along with you. She knows my name and called me "Mallo". I love it.
This week went as follows:  Carrying huge rocks (in a Ford-style assembly line) to the medical clinic site, hauling sand in buckets up the mountain or moving 20 pound bricks down to the site.  Lots of lifting and plenty of assembly lines!  I learned that carrying heavy objects up on your shoulder (like the chap pictured below) is actually substantially easier.  Life lesson right there.  The end of every day produced tired, dirty, sweaty, and usually sunburned white peeps.  While we were tired, the happiness and satisfaction so easily outweighed our exhaustion.
On the third day, we were tired and sore from the previous days of carrying heavy goods and just when we were getting a little less enthused, the children had there recess break.  I kid you not, on their recess, a flock of children raced down the mountain with little buckets and potato sacks in hand.  They joined our assembly line and lifted just as much as we did.  It was so inspiring.
We were carrying the sand in all different kinds of bins--usually big buckets, but this little lady brought an option B.  How amazing are these children?!
Part of our assembly line.  Josh, Simon and I carrying sand up the mountain.  Great little workout on the equator.  Nice and sweaty.  Jillian Michaels has got nothing on the building of this medical clinic.  We all woke up so sore but so happy to be there and work hard.  In fact, our assembly line was always multi-tasking with something hilarious like singing KC & Jojo, or the Fresh Prince song, or the Full House song (embarrassingly enough), or playing catch phrase where we frantically describe words to each other off the top of our heads.  With 3 days of manual labor, a fun group that doesn't complain was amazing!
This neither the first, nor the last picture that you'll see of Damalie.  Bah, she's so beautiful.  Whenever I asked to take her picture, she'd pull out the ever-charming thumbs up.  She makes me laugh though because it's always right in front of her face. haha I love her.  I love her so much.
So the rocks that we carried the first day, here's what became of them.  They were all cemented together to become the foundation for the medical clinic.  Kinda cool looking at all of those stones and thinking, "We carried those up here."  Somehow, when my face is grimey and sweaty, that thought is satisfying.
This is Kara.  When we had a break from hauling rocks and sand, we'd go sit in the shade for a little while...and hold these cute babies.  There's something so fulfilling after working so hard and being so tired, to have a cute little face and body come sit on your lap and sink into you.  They don't want anything from you, they just want you to hold them.  They just want to be with you.  And they love you.  It's beautiful.  I just want to freeze time when I'm with them.  They're so loving and I love them so much back. Kara is holding Derek.  We call him Derek Jeter.  He's a stud.
During hour wee break from carrying goods, I was watching this woman sitting in the shade nearby and had to take a picture.  What a beautiful lady huh?  All of the people here are so beautiful.
The little kids took a break from school and helping us out. This is a few of the cuties eating posho for their break.  Posho is like a flour and water substance that's cooked on the stove.  Little yellow shirt boy is named Garrett.  He is sooo darling.  Hopefully the video that I've been trying to post will actually work because...the boy has got moves.
Day 3 (Wednesday) we started moving bricks down to the site (once we had finished hauling stuff up for the foundation).  These bricks weigh about 20-25 pounds.  They helped us carry them like no big deal.  Amazing.
Here is Damalie and Joseph.  They are siblings.  Damalie is shy, beautiful and soft-spoken.  Joseph has a low voice for such a little kid.  His pants are always falling down, he makes the cutest expressions with his eyebrows, and is so loving.  They would both come sit on my lap at the same time.  Like I said, they just love to snuggle and be held.  And I don't mind providing that service.  I could hold them forever.  I just love them.  Somehow hours of carrying things doesn't seem the least bit inconvenient (if it ever did) as soon as these beautiful little human beings run to you, sit on your lap and want to do anything that has you in the equation.  It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced.
Here are the cute little kiddies again but this time with their older sister Winnie.  Winnie is older so her english is very good.  She often helps us understand what other little kids are saying or helps us learn the lyrics to Lugesu songs that we try to pick up in our down time.

This little guy is named Bennon.  His smile can and will melt your heart.  Just look.


Here's Joseph and Cami.  They're really good friends.  He's so hilarious that he'll gladly make faces at you, sing songs to you or allow you to tickle him exposing the most joyful laugh you've ever heard.
This is Cyrus, the little brother of Winnie, Joseph and Damalie.  AND if the cuteness of this family isn't already over the top, the mom is pregnant again.  And if the babies I produced were this irresistible, I'd keep 'em coming as well.  They are so beautiful it's mind-blowing.
More with Damalie.  I DO want to adopt her.  The idea of not being able to see this girl or spend time with her anymore already makes my heart ache.  I just love every moment with her.
Here are the two youngest.  Damalie and Cyrus.  Yes, please please can I keep them?
This is Sarah.  That smile that you see, is completely genuine.  She ALWAYS has a big beautiful smile on her face.  She works so hard, let's us stay in her house and feeds us.  She's so kind and friendly it's almost unbelievable.
Here's a wee glimpse of our assembly line in action. This was on Wednesday.  Us having the children to help us was an exception rather than the rule.  We were normally alone carrying everything to the site but this day they came and helped us.  It was both really helpful and guilt inspiring.  Such tiny little kids working so hard and not gaining anything monetarily in return.
Passing the cement buckets down our assembly line.  Sometimes when it's really heavy or something, I just laugh about it.  It happens.  I love my life.  Even when I'm dirty, smelly, sweaty and tired.  Bring it.
Here's Marcy.  Just carrying a 20 pound brick on her head like no big deal. 
Tuesday night we had a little dance party.  I was blissfully happy.  The tiny little kids broke it down.  A couple of the older ones would bang on little buckets to give a beat and the other kids would just let it go.  Not only are these children beautiful just when they're sitting on your lap, but give them a beat and I dare you to not fall in love with them.  They're the sweetest little human beings and I love the tangible love that is reciprocated between us.  

This little yellow-shirt boy is named Garrett.  He's a doll and was shaking it real good.  I found it both sweet and hilarious and had to share.  Also I had little Damalie on my lap and got her to sing a little song for the camera that all of the village kids know.  I have to type the lyrics because I find them both darling and hilarious.
"Rejoice, rejoice, and feel happy.  Our visitors (vista's) you are welcome (welecome).  To see that your plans and aspirations have now reached the climax."  haha I love my life.
video

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Soccer match, stealing, feeling inspired

I have kind of sucked it up when it comes to blogging lately. My apologies.  Here are some pics and deets of the latest and greatest.

You know very well that I can't resist showing you pictures of the children in the Namatala Slum.  I AM in love with them.  The cuteness is without end.
I'm working in a group to teach business and agriculture classes to women in a village about 30 minutes away.  (What I didn't tell you is that you have to voyage on the scariest boda ride of your life to get there.  But now I've told you so...cat's out of the bag.)  While we were at the meeting on Thursday, I got this little lady to come sit with me.  She was singing on my lap and happily kicking.  It was one of the most darling things.  I'll try to film her next time.  Want to take her home.  I know it's illegal and that she has parents and stuff but good crap, she's a doll and I adore her.
Look, the beautiful mom.  But...I still covet her baby.  She's so darling.
The next village that we went to in order to teach these classes is the home to the boy pictured below--Moses.  Holy smokes that boy has the most darling laugh.  It was one of the most lovely sounds I've ever heard.  

Last weekend I stayed home from the Nile rafting trip to get a pedicure, watch a movie, and celebrate Ryans b-day.  This weekend, I wanted to bust out of the house and do something fun.  Coincidentally, the whole team went to a Uganda Cranes soccer match.  Boom. We picked up some jerseys, took a four hour bus ride, snuck into the VIP section (pretty sure the only reason we pulled it off is because we're white), and had a hilarious good time.
The Uganda team is not really that great.  They ended up tying with Senegal 1-1.  It was fun to get all crazy and be at a sporting event again.  I loved it.  The thing that was crazy to me is that even with people with their faces painted and bizzarre costumes, we STILL didn't blend in.  People are very aware of where the white people are and it made me uncomfortable being in a big group of whities sometimes.  But for the most part it was all good in the hood.
AFTER the game the fans were going nuts.  The people were tight on the street and acting crazy.  Our friend Freddie (he's Ugandan) saw someone steal a phone out of the backpack of one of our friends (a white person, but not a volunteer).  Freddie full on started beating the man with his yellow horn that he was blowing the whole game.  It was insane.  A crowd formed, and the phone was retrieved.  Robbing is NOT tollerated in this country.  It was crazy to me how fast everyone reacted.  If anyone is seen stealing--by anyone--people chase them down and...get physical.  The sad part is that later that evening, a man came at a sprint, stole the iPhone out of one of our volunteers hands, passed the phone off, but then was caught by a group of people chasing after him and, you guessed it, started beating the lad up.  I can't believe how everyone looks out for each other here.  They don't have to know you but if someone sees someone else take something from you, they sprint after them and take them down.
We had the missionaries over tonight.  It was a wonderful experience.  There aren't a lot of members here and they don't get fed very much so we had them over for french toast and mango juice. haha We'll have them over for something fancier some other time.  But it's the Sabbath and that's what we had. haha Talking to them made me miss the mission so much.  It was such an amazing time of life.  Sometimes I have little moments where it's overwhelming thinking back on that time, what it did for me, how it shaped me, and how I continue to be deeply soaked up in that time of my life.

One of the elders--he's from Zimbabwe--was talking to a couple of us. We talked what a powerful influence music is, the concept of understanding your potential, the missionary work in the area--who's investigating, how they do the work around here, etc.  I was asking him how many members of his family are members of his church.  After a bit of awkward tension about whether or not his father is a member, he informed us that his dad passed away--two weeks ago!  My heart just sunk.   He doesn't have anyone to go home to now.  His eyes pooled with water, but he stayed very controlled.  I can't imagine going through anything like that at all, let alone on the mission. We talked about how different and real the Plan of Salvation becomes when something like that happens.  I sat there in awe of his strength and great faith.  The conversation made me want to be better.  I love those types of conversations.  I love being around people that inspire me and help me understand where I could pick up the slack.  It was a great evening.

Well I've got to go to bed.  We're leaving early in the morning to work on the medical clinic.  If anyone's still interested in donating to the medical clinic or water filters, please visit our Indi gogo site.  We could still use the help. Thanks for the love and support.  Love and miss you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Working in the village, adoring the children and spilling the syrup

We've been pretty busy lately.  Our Monday-Wednesdays are all spent up in Bunabuyoka working on the medical clinic.  The children are literally the cutest things you've seen in your life.  They're beautiful to look at, have heart-melting smiles, and their cute little voices are to die for.  Last week I spent a lot of snuggle and play with time this cute girl:  Sharon.  Can't even handle the cuteness.
We have to fend for ourselves on Sundays for meals.  Last Sunday we made french toast.  I dropped mine on the floor and said near profanities.  I had a syrup covered bossom and had to do some clean up.  But the french toast was ideal!...I got a new piece.  I didn't eat off the floor...obviously.
The villagers at Bunabuyoka had a right nice dance party with us after a meeting.  They sure know how to shake it.  Even the kids have killer cool dance moves.  
Kelsey and I had to teach english to the youngest group of kids in the village.  We taught the alphabet and then the Hokey Pokey.  It was a hit.  Nothing's cuter than watching them put their "whole bodies in" and shaking them about.  Webster could define cuteness like these kids can.  Adorable.
We spent all day one day carrying rocks down the mountain for the foundation of the medical clinic.  How inspiring is it to see these cute kids carrying bigger rocks than you when you think you're tuckered out.  Never was there better reason to keep working.
Here's the clan carrying some of our rocks.  We were all so dirty and sweaty by the end of the day.  But so happy.
Alexis, Josh and Jennilyn.  Alexis and Jennilyn are dang tough...and Josh is mad about it.
We took a break from making bricks and I was chilling with my buddy Derek for a while.  We call him Derek Jeter.  
This is little Rebecca.  We're good friends.  She hangs all over me when I'm within site of her.  I love this little girl.

We're working hard to get the clinic built and I fall more and more in love with these sweet people the more time I spend with them.  If you'd like to donate to the clinic, please feel free to hit up our indie go-go site.  Love you lots.  I'll post more laters.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thank you, video casette, stove cake

Thanks so much to the people who've already helped out with the fundraising for the Bunabuyoka medical clinic, school roof and water filters for the Namatala slum.  We're still trying to raise the funds needed for all three projects but the whole team expresses gratitude and amazement toward all those who've contributed.  It really means a lot to us.

Things have been really good here.  I went up to Bunabuyoka Monday and Tuesday last week.  It was an incredible, incredible place!  I have pictures and videos that I'd love to post to show you but...they'll have to wait for another day.  The location of this place is mind-blowingly beautiful.  It seems like it must be another planet or something because it's so green and I find myself blinking repeatedly because I'm sure my eyes must be deceiving me.  I'll have to post pictures.  It's unreal!

Downside:  I experienced my first squatter toilet while I was there---which wouldn't have bothered me if I wasn't violently sick. haha I don't know if it was the food or what but my body revolted.  It was funny because of course I'd get super sick when my digestion center is a hole in the ground the size of a video casette.  Hilarious.  I got a lot of practice and now feel well-versed in a skill that I...will not be putting on my resume.  I felt oddly proud, however, being that not high maintenance. haha

The next morning I was still feeling sick so instead of staying another day we had a couple hour hike out of the village.  Then we had an hour bus ride in ...not cold weather.  So I was getting increasingly hot and nauseous during the taxi home.  My whole body was feverish and I was certainly I'd throw up at any moment.  Listening to the sounds of the other volunteers voices was nice.  It distracted me and I felt like I didn't have to address it.  When we got home, the country director was informed that I wasn't feeling well and just said, "What's wrong?"  And...if you know anything about me, when I'm in a stressful situation, just show any concern for my well being at all and I'll cry.  haha It's awkward but kind of hilarious.  I didn't know what was wrong with me but my body felt like it was on fire, I was kinda loopy and just felt horrible.  Thankfully, a cold shower was just the ticket, followed by some meds and sleep.  My fever was only 101 and one of the country directors thought it was malaria. haha It wasn't.  I'm fine.  I was tired for a few days but the first day was the only one that I was actually a mess.

Things have been going well though.  Today we had a 2.5 hour drive in either direction to district conference.  For some reason it was a very pensive day for me.  Thinking about how I got here, what I'm doing here, and where I'll be when I go home.

Just the other day I was looking through some facebook pics and kind of laughed at how differently I look here. haha My hair was in place....ish, I wore pencil skirts, funky tights and ballet flats.  Now my hair is dancing around in all directions, make up is for a special occasion and skinny jeans are not plausible. haha

It's just crazy that I live in Africa.  I just never would have thought I'd be THAT girl to live in a third world country.  Not that I ever thought I was high maintenance or anything but...this is wild! haha I love every second.  I love the volunteers and the people of Uganda.  But sometimes I'm riding into town on a boda or hiking into a village or walking home at night and just wonder how I got here.  Trying to retrace all of the little paths that somehow got me to where I am.  I then can't help but wonder where I'll be in 5 years...or even 5 months.  I just try to take in the moments--wherever I am, however I'm feeling, whatever the hour and just appreciate the opportunity to experience it--any of it!  Even when I was sick, it was funny.  Funny that I was living in a little village in the most green lush place I'd ever seen.  Just happy to be there--in any condition.

Sitting outside our house after dinner, talking with our guard David, I noticed how lovely the African sky is.  No, it's not the bright, vibrant Italian sunrises and sunsets--those took my breath away everyday.  But the sky here was beautiful to me.  It was a dark grey, but the trees were so distinctly black in front of them, they seemed like paper cut outs or something.  And the moon seems small, but it lights the night.  It feels peaceful, it feels good.

Yesterday was Ryan's birthday.  Rebecca made him felafel and I made him pineapple upside down cake on a stove.  It was an experiment...that went very well.  It was delicious and I was oddly proud of the fact that I cooked a cake on a stove.  You do what you've gotta do without an oven. :)  The whole HELP team is in Jinja for the weekend rafting the Nile.  So Rebecca, Holly, Ryan, Jenny, David and I sat around the table eating dinner and dessert just enjoying the evening.  It felt like we were at a college dorm or something.  It felt cozy.  Like we were all just hanging out celebrating a friends birthday.

I just love taking everything in.  I'm fascinated that I'm here-doing this.  I love it.  I'm happy.  It's right.  But I can't help but wonder what tomorrow will hold.  Who will I meet?  What will I learn from them?  What about the day is going to be hilarious?  I can't wait to live tomorrow but I'm always so thankful for today.  For the little details that distinguished it from all the others.  It wasn't perfect, but even its imperfections were beautiful and made today unique.  I want to always go to bed saying "I loved today."  "I loved this day."  Yes, there are things to look forward to, lots to do, lots to anticipate, but I want to love today.  This moment.  Here and now.   I wasn't intentionally trying to quote a Mika song but I don't regret it.  That darling brit with sleek skinny ties deserves to be quoted I feel. :)  Anywho, this post was random and I'll post pics and vids next time.  But I just wanted to write down some random thoughts that have been dancing around in my head lately.  I love you all very much.