Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our first month in Bundibugyo

Just a few photos to show you a glimpse of life here. There is so much more to show and to tell. We are so grateful for our team both in Bundibugyo and State-side that continue to sacrificially love us. We are starting to see a rhythm form for our time and look forward becoming more involved in Ugandan life as the weeks progress. Love y'all, tj and aj

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Life Together

We have now been living in Bundibugyo for two weeks...two weeks of unpacking, organizing, meeting neighbors, learning Lebwisi, establishing household routines new to us (like composting and washing cloth diapers), adjusting to indoor life with insects/mice/chameleons, and this morning, even removing a larvae from our 12 week old puppy!

But the greatest joy of these first two weeks comes from the welcome and relationships we have experienced with the WHM teammates.

When we were in Kampala, I became friends with a precious German missionary who serves north of here. As I asked her about her team, she remarked, "What is a team? Just because we are all from the same country, serve in the same place, and live on the same compound does not mean that we are a team. It merely means that we exist together. We are all independent people who have our own ideas and do our own work." Though I was saddened for her, I can understand her thoughts about the type of people who move out to Africa...independent. Ask my mom and Travis's mom. We tend to have our own stubborn and independent streak. In some regards, you have to be fairly determined to get to this place. It is not an easy place to live. And what is even harder than living in Africa? Living in community in Africa; for a bunch of independently natured people to serve Jesus repentance.

This is the theme of the book Life Together that we are reading with the teaching staff of Christ School Bundibugyo on Tuesday nights. In the first chapter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer remarks that fellowship can be a fluid state, sometimes it is available and other times not. The one who has "the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians [should] praise God's grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren."

So, with grateful hearts to God, Travis and I do thank God on our knees and praise God for His grace to us expressed in the community of the teammates here in Bundibugyo, Uganda.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New places, new faces

Just a few photos as the day ends to show you the joy we receive from new places and new faces in our lives.

The kids enjoy going to their new place: Rwenzori Mission School, a short 3 minute walk from our home, nestled within a stunning view of the mountains, taught by fabulous teachers Miss Ashley and Miss Anna.

And the hope we see in the new lives of these three dear faces: 5 day old calf Oreo, 3 month old puppy Bhootu, and 4 month old sweetheart Aidan.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I reserve the right to freak out

When Travis was in medical residency, he always asked his patients who had been married for over 30 years what is the secret to a lasting marriage. Though the answers varied, there is one piece of advice that has pulled us through many-a-crisis:

"Only one of you can be a fool at a time."

This morning at 6 AM, it was my turn to be the fool.

Aidan is now four months old, but as he has slept in 17 different rooms thus far in his wee life, he has not quite established great sleeping patterns and awakes frequently through the night. After his feeding at 5:30 this morning, I was back in my bed peacefully hoping to drift back into sleeping bliss when all of a sudden, I heard what sounded to me as drum beats, a man's voice calling out with responsive men's voices in chants, ending with a high pitch whooping war cry.

To sleep deprived, just off the boat, in the middle of Africa, a few miles from Congo, over imaginative and super protective mom, I just knew THIS WAS IT: All of my fears of in-the-middle-of-the-night-evacuation due to warring tribes was happening. And in the first week of our arrival!

However, my now awakened, sweet husband (who could somehow sleep through this crisis!) spoke truth to me, telling me that we were okay.

And we were.

Later this morning, I learned that the boys' soccer team was out for a morning jog and it is their habit to call out to each other.

I guess it is now Travis's turn to be the fool next.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You are most welcome here

I remember as a prospective college student visiting Auburn University learning about "Hey Day". Basically, everyone took a day to walk around and say "Hey!" to everyone else on campus.

We have experienced the Ugandan equivalent to that this week.

Yesterday, ready to meet new friends, we took markers and paper to our katoobe. Though I am probably spelling it wrong, a katoobe is a gazebo type structure that is used as a place in which to greet visitors. As our katoobe has no poles or traditional banana leaf roof, the only greeting that goes on there is saying hello to our neighbor's goats that think that it is their katoobe.

Once we shooed the goats out, we set out paper and markers, ready for our first friends. However, it was only 4pm, so Ugandan primary school was not dismissed yet. The goata returned this time being chased by an older man. He seemed to say that he was trying to grab the rope attached to the male goat, so the kids and I did the neighborly thing and chased the goats with him. So, while Lilli and Patton followed the curious Botu (our 10 week old puppy), I swung a broom towards the wayward billy with one hand while holding Aidan in the other. Eventually, our tactics worked and our neighbor went back to the compound of his family homes. And we followed...

After exchanging the four Lebwisi greeting words I knew, I shared our names. Then our neighbor and the three women with him proceeded to tell me wonderful things of which I have no clue, but I did the proper Ugandan thing and agreed with them in the three customary ways: raised my eyebrows, lifted my chin repeatedly, and made the "hmmm" sound simultaneously.

Eventually, the neighbor children did come home from school and our kids greeted them in the goat-free katoobe. Patton immediately connected with a young boy named Charity who played soccer with a volleyball while Lilli was surrounded by lots of little girls who liked to draw together.

"Hey Day" continued as I took an afternoon walk down a lane by a primary school. After chatting with children walking home on the same path, I turned to head back home. Once I had started my walk back, the oldest of the girls yelled down, "Madame, I will be your friend!"

And then today, we enjoyed the chapel talk centering on servant leadership given by our teammate Scott at Christ School Bundibugyo. As we met each of the teachers, they graciously said, "You are most welcome here."

So, here we are...exchanging the beautiful sing-song greetings as we walk around the town, meeting neighbor children, chasing goats, and being welcomed by new friends.