Friday, May 18, 2012

Uganda Week One, Life as a Mzungu

I have spent the past few days in Uganda serving with Empower a Child. We headed to a village called Zirobwe where we would start building a temporary church structure, fetch water, and play with the kiddos. Being in Uganda is literally another world, yet its just the same. It has been so eye opening, and so fun to adventure, learn, and be pushed in every limit.

On Tuesday, we cut the grass with machetes and set up camp. It was my first time hearing MZUNGU screamed by every kid in the village, meaning white person. As the van pulled up, kids came out from every hut waving, smiling, and screaming mzungu. Such an experience. Just the chance to hold our hands, and they were all smiles. We played, giggled, and dance, and man can those kids dance. I had the time of my life spinning, laughing, and making a fool of myself trying to learn their moves. (my hips don't move quite like theirs do). As the sun set on the African sky, music filled the air and praise. As night set, the rain came and we headed off to bed exhausted from jet lag and work.

Wednesday we woke up early and started our work. There is a group of workers working on the church building with hand made bricks and cement. In order to make the cement they needed water. When I say they needed water, I mean a 320 gallon tank. While taking the truck to the pond there was on ongoing truck that had got stuck in the mud and was blocking the path. So, we parked there, grabbed our jerry cans and carried it to the water. With a jerry can in one hand, and a small, smiling child's hand in the other we trekked back and forth from the water for about two hours. I finally learned how to carry the cans on my shoulders, but never quite mastered balancing them on my head. After resting and eating lunch, we headed to help get our own truck unstuck from getting lumber. We carried 50 pieces of lumber back to the truck as the men attempted to push the truck out of the ditch. Later that evening we walked into the main part of the village for the children's program that night filled with games, music, a story, and face painting. One of the games was four corners, with the muzungus as the corners. Whenever one of our names were called, the kids had to run and grab us and the last ones there were out. Thankfully, I was warned to "be ready" because when my name was called, I had about 50 kids sprinting towards me and literally just about got knocked down. It was so wonderful and such a blessing to sing with them, watch them dance, and catch their contagious joy. 

Thursday morning, we woke up bright and early and head out to cut the timber we had brought the day before. In order to make it fun in the African heat, we made it into a competition. With a machete as our weapon of choice we had relays as to who could cut the fastest. We carried bricks over to fill the holes for the posts of the temporary church shelter. We also measured and lifted the timber into the holes to create the basis of the structure. Luke, one of the members of the village who lives close by, was helping with construction and his wife came over with two of her youngest children (out of seven!) I got to hold sweet Jenny until she fell asleep. As I took her back to her home, her mother introduced me to all of her children. It is mind blowing to see little five year olds carrying their new born brothers and sisters. Life is just so different in the village, yet its so similar. 

We then had to fill both containers with water before we could pack up camp and head out. But, this time was a piece of cake considering we could drive all the way to the water. We hurried in order to beat the on coming storm racing towards us and made it out of the village just in time with about twenty people in one van! 

I can assure you that the shower I took ( first one in five days) once we got back to the house in Kampala (which is like a resort in my eyes now) was one of the best moments of my life. I take for granted this simple fact of showering.

Friday morning was spent at a babies home in Kampala. Those big eyes and sweet smiles can steal any one's heart. We held babies, folded clothes, hung up laundry, and carried back wood for cooking. 

Even though I have only been here almost a week I have learned so much. If i have ever thought before that I was gross, I was sadly mistaken. I now know what it is really like to be disgusting. Like wearing the same thing for three days while you work, it rains, everything is muddy, and sweat. I take for granted the luxury of a bathroom. Enough said. I have learned what it is really like to work, and in fact machet-ing to cut the grass is one of the best forms of letting out frustration. Exhilarating, really. I have learned some dance moves from some kids. I have experienced what it is like to need food for energy, not just because I am "hungry." I have learned that I can do way more than I thought I could. I have been blessed to know what it is like to have 10 kids all trying to hold your hand and giggling. I have seen what real joy is. I hate mosquitoes; my legs look like I have chicken pox. Ants are actually terrifying, and I have witnessed the true meaning of "ants in your pants." Its not as funny as it sounds. Some of the rides at amusement parks are simply mimicked after driving with Ugandans. I am pretty confident of that. I have learned that Ugandans are some of the most beautiful people I have met, as well as some of the funniest. I have learned that wherever I go, every kid screms MZUNGU (white person). I leanred that Ugandan children think it is hilarious to touch my skin and watch the color change. And I have learned that I am in for a real treat for the next couple of weeks. It is going to be hard, but so worth it. 

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