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Friday, December 28, 2012

MY Supermarket

One of my favourite places in town is MY Supermarket.  It has been there for three years now... and I'm the one who named to the new store.  (See this old post)
A few weeks ago, I walked in to get a few groceries when I saw this decent looking Christmas tree.  Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas decor (I think I get that from my Dad), but knowing that many children play in my house and that I was hosting a Christmas party, I had to get a tree. 
I started discussing with the young men of the shop how much the tree was.  We came to a reasonable price, but moments later the store owner walked in and saw us talking about the tree.  He asked the boys how much they were selling the tree for.  After they gave the answer, he said "Reduce!  Reduce!  This girl has named MY shop!"  They all chucked and lowered the price yet again.
Moments later, I went to pay for the tree and a few groceries.  The cashier had overheard the whole conversation, and he said "Okay, if the boss wants us to reduce, then I am taking money off of your groceries too."  I just smiled as he lowered the bill and threw in a lollipop.
When I came back two hours later to get my tree, they gave it to me fully loaded - with balloons, suckers, lights and decorations hanging from the green and white branches.  I was truly blessed.

Boxing Day

As is the norm in Teso land, most people head home to the village for Christmas, so I was ecstatic when I was able to join my neighbour family for a celebration in Serere.  It was an honor to have them in my home on Christmas Day and then to celebrate in their home on Boxing Day.
 The Grandmother (Tata) welcomed up with a simple Christmas tree and a crate of sodas.
 Pork and goat were smoking over a hot batch of coals and many other foods were prepared once we arrived.  Together we sat around, rolling out chapatis or stirring pots of rice or plantain bananas.
 Family portrait time...
O wait, more people need to join in.  :) 
 I am drawn to pets of all sizes 
And love these twins very much...
my dear, sweet Opio and Ochan 
Sitting around - fellowshipping and watching the kids do magic tricks.  A very relaxing day spent with a family that I love so much.

Christmas Day 2012

I was absolutely delighted to host Christmas dinner in my home for 14 guests.  I wanted to make the menu very special.
Meet L'Orange
My tree was loaded with gifts for all the guests.
L'orange became Duck A L'Orange... so nice
I carved him before the guests arrived so he would be easy picking
 amongst the 2 hens, pork, irish, rice, greens, and more.
Guests began arriving at 2 pm... my neighbour even wore an ephod
A sit down dinner... rare to eat at a table all together.
I asked one of my guests what he wanted to eat on Christmas Day and he said he wanted to eat something new.  I told him we were going to have duck... he was glad because that was new.  Then I mentioned Jello... he didn't know what that was.  How do you describe Jello if you have never even seen something with gelatine in it?  I mentioned that it was like juice you could eat with a fork.  Some were glad to try and some feared because that is just wrong.  :)
Musical entertainment... the keyboard or Ipod was playing for a long time
Gift giving time!
Opio followed my lead in entertaining the crowds...
Rose receives a photo of her precious children
Jordan helped me to clean the rice
My boys received their new shirts... a plan that took 2 months to unfold.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Parties 2012

Christmas season is always filled with lots of wonderful gatherings.  All of us missionary ladies got together for a super fun annual "Tea Party".  We all came with Christmas baking to eat and exchange.  It has actually become too sweet for me. 
 Vanessa, my sweet neighbour, helped me to bake Mom's famous Almond Ring for the  party.
 After trying a few samples, we made a craft out of African cloth...
 I made two hair pieces. Not my best piece of work, but fun!  Then we had a small gift exchange and more sweets before heading home for the day.  I lovely afternoon.
 Last Friday I was invited to attend two parties.  The first one was a celebration at Rockview Baptist.... where I helped to lead an exciting summer camp.  The kids were so delighted to have Auntie Karen back in the church.  I shared stories of Christmas in Canada and Holland and danced with the many sweet children.
 From the church I raced over to a local restaurant where I was a guest at a year end party for the Freedom Boys.  There are 32 street boys that my team is working alongside of, and so they were having a meal together and receiving new shoes and clothes.  Jimmy, one of the CAAF (Children Affected by Armed Forces) youth is now volunteering his time with the Freedom Boys in town.
 The kids on our team introduced themselves to the youth of the streets. Together we shared a delicious meal of chicken, rice, mashed plantain and more.
 And then a few relay races were played.  Such fun!
The boys all painted a star to have as an ornament for the Christmas tree.  Some were very artistic and of course, some rushed to paint the star with one colour.  :)
The crowd moved inside to watch a nativity story and snack on ice-cream.
We finished the day with a dance party outside.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Youth Conference #2

EeAaRrLlYy Friday morning (5:20am) I headed up north to the village of Toroma.  I was asked to speak for 2 hours there at the Catholic Youth Conference.  I prayed all week that God would give me the words to say about Youth and Media.  According to the bishops and leaders, my talk was very insightful and thought provoking.  One of the monks wants a copy of my notes, so I'm praying it went well. 
 I was asked to stay for mass and lunch.  And even though I was extremely tired, I decided to stay for mass.  And I'm glad I did.  What a reverent experience, with a theme of "Carry the cross and Follow Me"!  It sent shivers down my spine to see the bishops all dressed up.
 Part of the service was a mass wedding for 5 young couples.  :) 
 Tribal dancers often showed their energetic moves whenever the choir sang beautiful, harmonic pieces.  I've never seen such a cool mix.
While sitting behind this sister, I started to jot down notes about this day, but didn't get any further.  Here are a few of my lines:
Sunrise glory meets Sister Act....
Catholic choir meets Iteso dancers...
Nuns meet police officers...
Incense meets the pulpit....
Royal robes of purple meet the white tent of the UN...
Rituals and symbolism meet an air of reverence....


Traditional Wedding in Katakwi

I totally forgot to share pictures from the traditional wedding I went to in Katakwi.  I was invited to attend the wedding of my Ugandan parents.  It was a little strange to see them get wedded after 19 years of marriage.  They got married in a church 19 years ago, but George never paid the bride price to the family, so we had to go for the day to bring a love offering of cows, goats, and shillings to the bride Cathy's family.
Here I am with my baby sister, Chose, and the pastors who were going to officiate.
Many people traveled from far to come to the village wedding.
The groom showed up in style.
With the entrance fee paid, people flocked onto the bride's family property.

Praying together
Offering the gifts for the bride and her family to accept.
At the end of the day they are still together!!  May God bless their marriage.

Youth Conference #1

Over the past two and a half months I have been meeting with an executive committee to prepare for a huge youth conference.  We discussed budget, mobilization, topics, venues and more and eagerly awaited the day when youth would come from all over to spend up to five days together.  We were praying for up to 800 youth, but the Lord sent just over 200 youth our way... and we were still grateful.
I must say that I am exhausted, but God is good!
 I was in charge of registration and I loved it.  It's like being on the welcoming committee... I was able to meet and greet each youth, each day, as they came to attend the conference.  I took the registration fees and collected their information so that we could assess where a majority of the youth were coming from.
 The kitchen staff was busy for days on end... cooking rice and meat, or posho and beans for such a large crowd.  That is seriously hot, heavy work!
 Many of the youth wanted to present songs and dances - and the crowd loved it.
 Meet my little brother!!  Solomon is very special to me.
 Topics varied from a relationship with God to Ugandan law.
I was able to share twice throughout the week.  The first talk was on Purity and Relationships.  Sex is not talked about in the churches here, but it is definitely an issue that needs to be presented.  I also shared about being children of the King, and how we need to be witnesses for the Kingdom.
Most of the week, when I wasn't sitting at the registration table or speaking, I was playing taxi for the other speakers who needed rides to and from town.  I also had to pick up 20 mattresses and drive them to a place for dancers and praise team members to sleep.  I loved being a gopher.... but by evening I couldn't wait to crash into bed.
The youth left excited about being a "Youth in the 21st Century".

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Market Mix Up

Walking along the row of meat vendors, I was having difficulty choosing a place to buy meat.  For some reason, the places that had good meat hanging had no salesperson, and the ones that had dry, crusty, fly eaten meat had people wanting me to buy.  Finally, an energetic man at the end of the meat aisle said that he had meat for me... both beef and goat.  I don't really care for beef, unless it is minced or ground, so I wished for goat. 
I quickly told the guy that I wanted nice meat with no bones, and if it did come with bones, I would cut them out.  He said, "Oh, it's your lucky day, I have a nice thigh for you."  The piece did look nice - the perfect size, and an appetizing colour.  :)  Then the guy started talking about how bones were good for you.  Bones make you strong.  Bones make you work hard and you can give the left overs to the dog.
I described to the guy that I liked bones, but not bone shards, and that I don't have a dog and that I am strong.  Trust me, this guy completely understood English, but instead of listening, he proceeded to hack and whack the nice piece of meat with his big machete.  Now I was frustrated.  I don't like raising my voice... but I had been very clear about the bones.  Even if a piece of meat comes with bones, I want to cut the whole thing out, not dig out hundreds of shards - and miss a few that make my teeth scream when I crunch on them.
As he showed me the meat, I started to shake my head, he was confused.  I showed him all the bone pieces and told him I was not impressed.  I asked for a good piece of meat.  Then my speech started to become more energetic.  I quickly stated that if he wanted to see a strong woman I was going to go to another vendor and get the piece of meat I wanted.  I told him that he didn't do what I asked.  Strong = stubborn for me.  The guy put the piece of meat away then and was going to offer me another piece of meat.  He wanted to keep me as his customer.
After more discussion about how mzungus make different recipes - where bones are not always appropriate or desired... he started to understand.  Now I don't know what is worse... that he didn't listen to me, or that I softened and bought the piece of meat that he had hacked and whacked.  The meat still looked good and if I took the time, I could remove the bone pieces.  He was grateful and said that next time he would do better.  He now understood what I wanted.
What cracked me up as I was walking away was almost every vendor saying:  "Bones, she doesn't want bones... don't cut!!"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Olumai EE

Last week Thursday and Friday, I was out in the village of Olumai to lead another Evangelism Explosion training.  Pulling into the church yard, women ran from many directions, waving flags of simple cloth tied to sticks and trilling loudly.  I could barely climb out of the car as the ladies covered my head with the flags and hugged me tightly... leading me into the church where I was brought to a decorated chair at the front.  Tea was taken as we waited for villagers to come for the training.
Don't know why it's sideways -
Parked at the church
While waiting for people, a few of us took a 2 km hike to a rock where there was a great view of the surrounding area.  Beside the rock there were a bunch of young people where were busting up rocks, quarrying, to help build a local road. 
 The training began well... I love teaching the Evangelism course... people get excited about seeing the Gospel so clearly explained.  And this time the church was packed with both adults and kids.  I was shocked that the kids were a part of the whole training, and yet that is my heart's desire - to see the kids Know and Share Christ! 
Praying over needs at the end of Day 1
 As the sun was setting, we drove to a home just a short distance away, where I would spend the night hanging out with kids and sleeping in a mud hut. 
The kids were delighted to have a mzungu around!
 For the first time ever I saw a part of the charcoal making process.  Huge logs are smoked under mounds of dirt, so blacken the wood without burning it.  A lot of work!
 In the area, there were tons of plants that grew this red fruits.  I have yet to get a name for this edible fruit.  They are hard to break open, kind of stink when you smell them, but taste great... a big mix of bitter sweet.
 I told a few kids to bring me some of the fruit for day two, well, during my teaching times, kids would quietly walk up to me and hand me another piece of fruit.  With a smile on my face I would continue teaching as I placed the fruit in a plastic bag.  At the end of the day I went home with a huge bag of fruit.  :)  The adults were completely understanding. 
 Overall, it was a great getaway.  I didn't sleep well, because it was freezing cold (if anyone knows my crazy definition of freezing), but the people were friendly, receptive, and now they are excited to share the Gospel as they host a crusade next week.