Friday, 11 April 2014

It's life here

Well, well, I am sitting in a comfortable home in the city of Mbale, Uganda. Internet is fast, good food around me, and fun fellowship with the people surrounding me too. Once a month the OPCU Mission has a get together, the two missions, one in Mbale and the other in Karamoja have a meeting and talk about the work that each individual is doing. It is usually a two or three day visit. Last month they had the Mission meeting in Karamoja and the two families from Mbale OPCU came up, this month the Karamoja team came down. Some of us came down on Wednesday, and the rest of us on Thursday. We enjoyed fellowshiping and meeting each other over dinner Thursday night. Friday morning the meeting starts at 9am and goes until 4:30pm, or so I've heard. With plenty of breaks for coffee, lunch, and snacks.

So, now that you know where and why I'm here I'll tell you what I did. I slept at Bryce's house last night with Jesse and James. Jesse and James are two MA's who work at the Karamoja compound. Bryce works for Bob Wright drilling bore holes for wells all over the country. He recently bought a house in Mbale and that's where I slept last night. Despite the fact that I brought single sheets for a double bed I slept alright. The room cooled down nicely with a breeze, and the mosquitos were kept at bay thanks to a mosquito net. For breakfast we drove to a hotel that had a cafe, we got fried dough and some mandazi's which are a mixture of meat and other vegetables wrapped in dough and fried. It was pretty tasty, I must say. After the quick meal we drove back to the Webbers where we had dinner the night before to pick up Sarah to drop her and James off at a hospital in town, I think they're doing some kind of one day interning or something. They both work at the medical clinic in Karamoja.

After dropping them off we came to the Tunega's house, where the meeting was. Taryn was gracious enough to let me use her lap top while she met with everyone else. I was able to get on email and facebook and some other things. You know what I've found out? The less you're on the internet, the less you want or or can think of to do when you get back on the internet! Seriously! I find myself checking gmail and facebook and after 10 minutes thinking, what else do you do online anyway? I guess it's like any addiction, once you're off it long enough it doesn't have the same draw as you thought it did when you were on it. It's cool though. At 10:30am the Wright kids, Bobby, Anna, Mary and Kipsey and I went into town. We took pikis to town and went into a thriftshop. I got a shirt for working, since I don't have very many, and it said Eat Fresh Eat Local, which struck a chord with me. It turned out to only be 1000 shillings, which, is very cheap. (My exchange rate was 2400 shillings to the dollar). After the thriftshop we went to a grocery store and got a few items, I picked up some black tea and biscuits. Then we went to market, the place where you barter for everything. I wasn't planning to do very much shopping but I wanted to get some gun boots. I bartered down a little for them, but I'm sure I could've done better, oh well, I just stimulated the economy a little more in Uganda. Then the guy wanted me to buy a shirt, I was interested in getting a Uganda jersey to remember the country by (I got a Honduras jersey when I was there). He picked it out and told me the price, I got him down a little bit and bought it, then he wanted me to buy shorts to go with it. Well, I wasn't very into getting matching shorts, just not my thing, but, he insisted. First 15000 shillings but he brought the price down to 7000. I figure if I don't where them I can donate them to One7 ministry where they are always taking clothes to give to their kids and give away to people who really need them.

It's fun though. I found out that it cost me about 11 cents a minute to call home. I thought it was much higher than that. I calculated it out after I talked with my family for 50 minutes on Wednesday night. I also found out that I brought a lot more money than I needed. I guess some people spend a lot when they go places, but I tend to be thrifty when I can, for the sake of being thrifty but I've also been convicted by David Platt to spend money, or put money where it really makes a difference. As someone put it Live Simply so others can Simply Live. I think I'm going to have at least 500USD leftover. So I've been praying about it and asking God what he wants me to do with it. I don't feel like putting it into my wallet for my personal spending, that doesn't feel right. So, I might be using it to fund a Jesus Wedding Feast or some such event, or just use it to bless the poor and the homeless where God shows me. After my plane ticket and shots and the initial cost of living on the compound it was a bit less than what I was suggested to raise, so that's where the extra money came from.

I realize as I'm in Mbale that the city of a country is so much different from the 'country'. Up in Karamoja is a much different place than here in Mbale. In Karamoja people are living on much less every day than in the city. You grab a piki all the time here, but in Karamoja it is still largely centered on agriculture. People have to rely on their own means of growing their beans and other staples and vegetables. In the city, people have higher paying jobs and buy everything. I don't know which I like better. I use to think I was a country kid, and in a sense I think I still am. But as I've grown to love community and people, I really like city's. Especially third world markets and such, they're all very similar. Honduras, Peru, Uganda, I've been to market in those three countries and it's pretty much the same, and I love it. I love the dirt, the guy who's sitting in the middle of the sidewalk and you have to step over or around him. Fresh bananas being sold by that lady over there. A kid walking down the street drinking from a bag of water, yes a bag! Sure they all have differences but a third world country is a third world country.

Being a farmer in the US is much different than being a farmer else where in the developing world. In the developing it's a way of survival, in the US where there are so many options it's much more one of the many vocations, or even a luxury, as we see hipster trending organic farms pop up all over the place selling high prices quality produce. I like the city, I like the community, I like being close to people, but I also like the country, I like being able to garden, farm.

Lately I've been doing masonry work with the Ugandans who work for Bob. Which means mixing cement and wheel barrow it into the house and scoop it into basins and hand up to the roof of the house where we're building a wall. The perimiter of the house needs mason work done from where the top of the wall is to where it meets the roof. Finding rocks that fit, are straight and don't fall off the wall onto is the challenge.

The stars here are amazing. Jim Knox pointed out to me the Southern Cross constellation last week after an authentic Ugandan meal which consisted of butchering chickens for it and ended with a dance party.

The rainy season hasn't started yet. I mean it has, but it's stopped. Which, is nice for the rich people who drive cars and drive down to Mbale, but for the poor who are cultivating the land it means no food. It's time to plant beans and everything else, and without rain there will be no food. It rained for 3 days last week but it stopped again, so who knows what the rainy season will look like this year.

I'm listening to music right now as I write this, actually Science and Faith by Script. But what I recently found out is that I love music. As in, LOVE! After being away from home for 5 weeks and with no computer or other device to listen to familiar music I realized that I crave it so much sometimes. I actually sometimes call Londa in Jinja when she's on her computer to play me a song over the phone because I miss it so much! :) I love blasting music over our speakers and having instant access to whatever music I want. It really is a blessing, a luxury. I took it for granted until I'd gone without it for 5 weeks. You know, you can go without a lot of things for a little while. You can forget your phone and laptop for a week of vacation at the beach, but you come right back to it when you get back home. It's so different when you actually settle into live somewhere without those luxuries. The mundane can become the norm. You have to figure out what to do, fill that time with something else. It's sometimes frustrating to be without it, because, sure everyone likes to think of getting off the phone or laptop, but you don't think of giving it up. And when you're away from something for 12 weeks, that's long enough to know what it's like to give something like that up. I know what it's like to go somewhere and be without something. I'm constantly asking to borrow a laptop for my needs. I don't have it at my finger tips. I can't play music because it will slow the internet down (in Karamoja it's a high commodity ) .

But life is good. It's more down to the basics. I'm doing a lot of reading, and since I read the dozen or so books I brought in the first 4 weeks I'm just reading my Bible. I'm seeing how fast I can read through it, I think sometime in May I will be finished, which is sooner than my goal was. I wanted to finish before I left, but I'm going to finish before then. I found that reading the Bible chronologically as it's put in the order it's printed makes me crave the New Testament. It's not that I don't like reading the OT, but I have a craving for the story of when Love walked among us, in the four gospels. And the writings of Paul and the letter of James and Revelation. I like the big picture I'm getting as I read through the Bible this quickly and I think once I've done it at this pace it will be easier to read larger chunks at a time after this 'bible bootcamp'.

Well, this is longer than it was suppose to be, but maybe some of you will enjoy it. I know it's a lot of ramblings, but I'm just putting my thoughts down as they come to me.

English Vintner