My Whirlwind Romance Part VII ” This decision is easy”

It was Sunday and after church Joseph and I went to his uncle’s house. This was the house that Joseph grew up in.  As the boda boda pulled into the yard, and I saw the expanse of grass surrounded by tall trees, the little house at the center surrounded by out buildings, I could just imagine Joseph living and playing here as a child. It had a homey feel. It reminded me of Aunt Hannah’s place, where I had grown up working and playing in the big yard surrounded by trees and protected from the outside world. It was a place teaming with memories and it reeked of home and family. I loved it immediately. I think that day was the first time that I began to see myself married to him.

I didn’t really think about it then, but looking back I remember imagining our future together and somehow tying his life growing up in this home to mine and thinking in terms of we instead of I. I do remember being so in love with him that I couldn’t hardly see straight. We played with his nieces and nephews, visited with his uncle and aunts and cousins.  They all accepted me as part of the family and loved me so readily.

This pictures was taken that day under the large mango tree in Uncle's yard.

This pictures was taken that day under the large mango tree in Uncle’s yard.

Joseph’s brother and his wife and just had a new baby girl and I held her and sang her a song until she fell asleep and then I found the perfect spot in the crook of Joseph’s arm and she and I took a little nap together while his family, had a family meeting in Luganda.

The following week Joseph stopped to see me on his way to Kampala to visit with the mission president one last time before he left the mission. I had been thinking a lot about him, about our situation and about the growing feelings I had for him. We went for a walk and had a very “logical” conversation.

I reminded him that I would be leaving in about 6 weeks and that it was impossible for this relationship to go anywhere in that amount of time. If he was able to get a visa to come to the US for a visit we could potentially continue to date then and see what happened but we were kind of staring at a dead-end. I told him it just didn’t make sense for us to get serious about each other or really even continue seeing each other when it was all bound to end in six weeks time anyway.

I don’t know what I expected or even what I wanted because at that moment if he had suggested that we not see each other any more I would have been terribly upset. I simply was expressing to him the impossibility of our situation without really thinking about a conclusion or wanting him to come up with a solution.

He seemed a bit down when he left, I went to work at Musana and one of the women there taught me the Luganda word for I love you. I thought I could surprise Joseph by saying “Nkwagala Nyo” to him when I spoke to him next time over the phone.

That night Joseph stopped by again, this time on his way home from his visit to see President Jackson. I had been at Susan’s house (One of the Musana women) teaching her how to make crepes. I had brought Nutella and bananas and the hot crepes were just coming off the flat surface of the charcoal stove when Joseph arrived.

I met him at the door and excitedly dragged him in for something to eat. I was so excited to show him what I had made and to have him taste the delicious treat that I didn’t even notice his hesitancy. I pushed him into a chair and then sat on the arm of the chair, feeding him bites of crepes and purposely smearing chocolate on his face, so that I could clean it off when Susan wasn’t looking.

Finally it came time to go and Joseph said he would walk me home. When we walked outside it was dark, the stars where out in all their brilliance and the warm breeze made the evening perfect.

Let’s just sit here and talk a minute” Joseph said, he seemed hesitant to take me home, for the first time that night, I noticed that he seemed a little on edge. We sat on the edge of the porch, I hugged my knees to my chest and waited for him to say something.

“I had a good visit with President” he told me

“Oh what did he have to say”

Joseph talked for a while about this and that, about his calling, about other things that he had discussed with President Jackson, after a few minutes his conversation suddenly turned rather serious. He sighed a big heavy sigh and I came down off the porch and knelt in front of him. “Whats the matter?” I asked. He didn’t answer so I put my arms around his neck and just hugged him. He started talking then and I could feel his breath on my neck.

“I love you,” he told me and I promise you that I will take care of you. I will do whatever it takes to provide a good home for you. I promise to be a good husband and father and to love you always as I do now.”

My body started shaking uncontrollably.

He continued, President Jackson told me that this decision is really pretty easy and doesn’t take even six weeks. Either you are the girl for me and I am the guy for you or not. That’s the only decision we have to make. It’s as simple as that. I think he is right and I know you are the girl for me if you will just say you will marry me.

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t say yes and yet try as I might I couldn’t say no either. I thought of President Jackson’s council to me to follow as closely as I could what my heart would tell me. I tried to shut out all the thoughts, and the ideas buzzing like so many mosquitoes in my brain. I knew then what I had to do. I had to do what I had been doing with Joseph all along. I would take it one step at a time.

“I think…” I said, hesitating and trying to make sense of my own thoughts before I spoke them, “that its probably ok… for us to get engaged. I need to sleep on it, and I can’t say for sure that I can marry you but I think you are right and we have to take a step forward.”

Joseph hugged me so tight I couldn’t hardly breathe, not that I could have taken a breathe anyway at that point. My knees where still shaking, my legs felt like Jello and my head was spinning. Did I just agree to get engaged!

He walked me home and kissed me goodnight. It was so hard to let him go and I stood at the gate and watched him walk down the road toward the taxi until he turned and waved and then was gone.

By morning I knew the only possible answer to his question. I was going to marry Joseph. I thought of everything that had led me to this point. The craziness of the whole plan that had led me to Uganda. I remembered telling my friends back home that the Lord must have something wonderful in store for me there because I had never received such clear direction to do anything in my whole life.  I knew from the moment I saw the ad for an internship, that I was meant to go to Uganda. Now I knew why. I was terrified beyond words, I was happy, I was in shock. But my Joseph was finally going to REALLY be MY Joseph. My life started to fit together like pieces to a puzzle and a sense of peace over came me. I couldn’t wait to see Joseph to tell him the new word I had learned I couldn’t wait to say to him Nkwagala Nyo!

Advertisements

My Whirlwind Romance Part VI “Riding off into the Sunset”

*Warning: This one gets a little romantic….if you can’t handle it you may want to stop now.

Joseph wanted to take me to meet his family.  It had been precisely two weeks since our first date. I was excited to meet them. He told me that he had never before taken a girl home and that they didn’t believe that he was about to now. As we rode in the taxi his mother and his sister each called him several times, not really convinced that he was actually coming nor that he was in fact bringing a girl with him.

The taxi ride was long but Joseph and I talked the whole way and a few hours flew by like minutes. We arrived in Kampala at Joseph’s aunt’s house where his Mother and Sister were currently staying.

This was NOT the day I met Joseph's mother. In fact it was taken on the day of our wedding.

This was NOT the day I met Joseph’s mother. In fact it was taken on the day of our wedding.

Joseph taught me the respectful greeting for his mother. We entered the little house to see Joseph’s mother sitting on the floor. She held out her hands to us with the biggest smile on her face. “Eladay Niabo” I said, surprising her with my limited knowledge of Luganda. We sat and soon Joseph’s sister Tinah entered the room.

Tinah, but also not from the day we first met.

Tinah, but also not from the day we first met.

Tinah had been assaulted and robbed in her home a few days before and the intruder had slashed her fingers with a machete. They were bandaged and broken.  She joined us and after awhile when Joseph asked if I would be ok if he left me with them for a few minutes I agreed. “Gende, Gende,” I told him shooing him away. “We have girl talk that you can’t be here for.” After he left Joseph’s mother got very real with me. “Do you love him?” she asked me rather pointedly. I assured her that I did. “Never before has he been interested in a girl like this she told me. When he first met you he called me and told me that he had just gone on a date with the woman of his dreams. Joseph wouldn’t say that unless its true, he has been looking for some time and has had many opportunities to marry and he has never found the right one. You must promise to marry him!”

I chocked a little on the dry cake that I was eating. I stammered, not sure what to say to this mother.

“When you get married,” I said, “the preacher says until death do you part. In my religion, we believe that marriage is much more than that. We believe that when you marry it is not only for time but for all eternity as well. Eternity is a very long time and deciding who I spend it with is a big decision. It’s not one that I can make after knowing someone for only two weeks.” I told her hoping she would understand.

She accepted my answer and we continued our visit. “What is Joseph like when he is angry” I asked her being just as direct with her as she was with me.

She thought carefully about her answer.

“He is very quiet, and when he gets that way you have to ask him what is wrong and show him that you care so that he will tell you what is bothering him.” She told me.

That sounded like the Joseph I knew. So far I wasn’t uncovering much on him that he hadn’t already told me himself.

Joseph’s other sister,

Asha, (this totally doesn't do this beautiful girl justice.

Asha, (this totally doesn’t do this beautiful girl justice.

Asha joined us, She was very friendly, beautiful and sweet. She sat next to me and held my hand and insisted that I call her Mulamu (sister-in-law)

Both girls giggled when I obliged them and gladly called them Mulamu Tinah and Mulamu Asha.

When it came time for us to leave all three of them walked us back to the taxi. They said goodbye with big hugs and we promised to come visit them again. “Marry my son.” His mother told me as she hugged me goodbye. “I always knew he would one day marry a white woman and move away from us. He was never meant for Uganda.”

I had to agree with her on one point. Joseph did not belong in Uganda.

We rode the taxi back to JInja and then we took a boda boda to Sister Gertrude’s house where I would be spending the night.

It was dark when we got back to JInja and as we flagged down a boda driver I decided that I was going to try riding as the Ugandan women did. Side saddle with both legs on the same side of the motorcycle. I got on and with Joseph behind me it was easy to keep my balance. One hand rested on each of his legs and I turned to talk to him. It was easier to see his face as we rode this way and I decided that the Ugandan women had a good thing going.

I only had to turn my head a little to be able to talk to him, as I did he playfully stuck his tongue out at me and instead of pulling away as I am sure he expected I would I leaned toward him. I had learned a thing or two about teasing from my brothers and I knew better than to give him what he expected. He also must have known a thing or two as well because his response wasn’t what I expected either. He kissed me, long and hard as the world flew passed us. I forgot about the boda driver, about everything except the two of us.  Finally fearing that we would both lose our balance and fall off the motorcycle we stopped. I giggled a little as I looked at him, feeling a little sheepish. I had no idea who might have seen us.  But with the stars twinkling over head, and the cool night air racing passed us. I felt like the moment was everything I had dreamed of as a child and more, and I didn’t care.

Why I am Grateful for Challenges

1450150_10152040021336584_15891125_nYesterday I left work just as the sun was going down.  With the daylight savings time it gets darker earlier and I wasn’t used to it seeming so late when I leave work. As I drove I was listening to my sisters piano music and humming along. I put my hand on my stomach where the slightly noticeable baby bump now sits and waited hoping to feel something move. I felt so happy.

I remember another day, very similar circumstances. It was exactly one year ago. We had just turned our clocks back then too. And as I left class at UVU I wasn’t prepared for the cold wind and the darkness already settling in on campus. I walked to my car feeling more alone than ever just knowing I was going home to an empty apartment and a cold bed.

My roommate and best friend had just gotten married, it seemed all my friends had gotten married and left me behind. I ached with loneliness. I remember wondering how I was going to survive the winter without drowning in the cold darkness.

I went home and pulled up facebook. There, bright as day for all the world to see was a picture of Ryan, my ex boyfriend who I was still so in love with that I couldn’t breathe at the thought of him. He was with a girl and he was engaged.

My stomach heaved and the room started to spin. The hurt and betrayal that I felt left me helpless in my agony. I thought I would never be happy again. After all I had given him, all that we had experienced in our two years together and he was capable of walking off without looking back and marrying a girl he had only known a few months. I thought of the last time that I had seen him just a few months before. He had held me in his arms for hours and promised me that he would stay in touch, that he would give me a little warning before he started to date someone so that I could get used to the idea of him having a girl friend. We had promised we would not let our friendship die just because the relationship had.

Anger formed a tight ball in my throat and then as it dissolved I started to cry. I sobbed for hours until the sun started coming up and morning was fast approaching and I knew somehow I had to face the day…

Funny how much can happen in a year. As I drove I marveled at the peace and happiness I was feeling.  I marveled at the contrast of how I felt on that day and how I felt now. I had just received a phone call from an immigration attorney. We had discussed our case looking for every possible way to speed up the agonizingly slow process of bringing my husband to the United States. At the end of the conversation we had no solutions. The estimated time of more than a year seemed to be the only way to get through the system.

I thought of Joseph, the feel of his arms when he hugs me, I thought of how much I wanted to just look into his eyes and to see his smile when it wasn’t fuzzy and contorted by the poor internet connection. I thought of our baby, and of the approaching day that I will give birth…possibly without him here. I tried to think of who I could ask to be with me at that time if he doesn’t make it and my mind came up blank. I JUST WANT JOSEPH! And yet, I feel peaceful. I feel happy. I can hum along with the music and I even feel joy. I wondered why and then the answers poured in so fast I couldn’t hardly contain them.

Joseph loves me, infinitely, eternally, and passionately. He is so committed to me, to our marriage and family, and to the gospel that it almost frightens me. Somehow I found a man who was everything that I ever wanted, and miraculously he wanted me too. And in finding that kind of love the loneliness not only faded, but the memory of it faded also. All those years since I was a 16-year-old girl watching my sisters and my best friends get married and wishing it was me, through the long lonely days and nights during the interminable 16 years that followed seemed but an instant, now that I had found him.

The heartache, disappointment, despair and betrayal from past relationships faded into the background and all I feel, all I know, is that every second of it all was worth it because it brought me to Joseph.

I used to tell my roommate that all I needed to be happy was a ring on my finger a marriage certificate on my wall and a baby in my stomach. Now I have all three, but I have something else too. I have a good man who leaves me speechless with his kindness. And most importantly I have a KNOWLEDGE that God has a plan and he is working it. He hasn’t forgotten me and he WILL and HAS blessed me.

So if Joseph doesn’t make it in time for the birth of our first child. I will take a deep breath, I may shed a few tears, but I’m going to be alright because I know that any sorrow that I feel now can be made up so quickly and so fully that even the memory of it fades into the background. This time that we spend apart, even if it’s a year or more, won’t be so hard because even 9,000 miles away with an ocean between us I know that I have a husband, who is faithful, and devoted. I know that since he isn’t here with me I have a Heavenly Father who I know will step in and fill the void. So we are going to be ok and that’s why I can smile, I can sing, I can listen to our babies heartbeat for the first time and feel only joy.

But I wonder if I could feel such peace, if I could have such trust in Heavenly Father, if I could have such love for Joseph if I hadn’t experienced something else first. What if I hadn’t loved someone who could not or would not commit to me? Would Joseph’s devotion mean as much? What if I hadn’t felt loss, anger and heartache in relationships before? Would the happiness I feel now be as poignant? If I hadn’t struggled and pleaded with Heavenly Father for so many years wondering in moments of weakness if he had forgotten me, would I still marvel at the beauty of his well crafted and perfectly executed plan when it unfolded before me and would I have learned a meaningful lesson about trusting him with every detail of my life?

I think not. I think everything happens for a reason, and I KNOW that nothing can hinder Heavenly Father’s perfect plan for me. If Joseph needs to be here for the birth of our first child, he will be and the how doesn’t even matter. US immigration is not so powerful that God can’t touch it and make things happen according to his will. And if Joseph doesn’t make it…

Well it wouldn’t be the first time that I longed for something that I didn’t get or had to wait for and I am confident that in future days I will look back with gratitude at all that we learned from the experience and marvel at how our Father knew what was best for us. I know he loves me. I am his daughter, and as I carry this child inside me that often recited phrase is coming to have much deeper meaning.

My Whirlwind Romance part V “The Wedding”

Since Joseph and I had decided that we were officially dating, I wanted to find out all I could about him. I didn’t want to be in a relationship if it was a dead end. So the following Wednesday I had agreed to help out with a choir practice in Jinja and Joseph and I agreed to meet up afterward. We sat on the lawn with a notebook and had a very honest talk. The search was still on for the true Joseph. I knew he couldn’t be as wonderful as I thought he was. I asked him straight out what he felt his biggest faults were and he told me, I told him mine also and we talked about what and how we felt we could deal with these. We talked about many other things as well as we sat under a tree on the church lawn. After awhile we noticed quite a group gathering for a wedding.

There were three couples arriving to be married and President Jackson, the Mission President would be performing the ceremony.  It would be a very simple ceremony that would turn Uganda tradition on its head, proving that weddings don’t have to be big expensive affairs that take a lot of money and planning.

We crowded into the chapel and as I watched the ceremony, with Joseph seated next to me I kept thinking to myself about what a wedding to him might be like.  As President Jackson spoke about the sacred commitment that these couples were about to make I looked at Joseph to find him already looking at me. We smiled surely thinking the same thing and he squeezed my hand.

A mass wedding in Uganda

A mass wedding in Uganda

The wedding was beautiful with all three couples standing in turn to make their covenants with each other and with God. One by one President Jackson made them kiss, not just once but until he felt that they had done it right! He wanted to see a real kiss that showed they were thinking more about their love for each other than their shyness at kissing in public. As the couples kissed awkwardly it looked as though they were trying their best to only touch lips and no other part of their body.

I whispered to Joseph. “We would have no problem with this, I think we could give them lessons,” He agreed with a huge smile just as the wedding ended. We stood around waiting for the couples to take pictures and to be greeted by all their friends. As we stood at the back of the chapel, President Jackson saw me standing there holding Joseph’s hand, your looking suddenly very happy he told me as he passed by. It was true, I was blissfully happy.

I could feel so many eyes on us and I knew that my holding hands in public with the second counselor in the district presidency was causing a bit of a stir. I wanted a minute alone with Joseph. We went for a little walk around the church. As we got to the backside of the building where no people were we stopped and enjoyed the privacy and the quiet, away from prying eyes.

After the wedding, we attended a dinner at Two Friends resort. The food was good and the couples looked so happy.  We were seated at the table almost directly across from President Jackson. As they were cutting the cake Joseph left the table to get us drinks and when he was away President Jackson came to my table looked me straight in the eye and said “I just want you to know, that man is everything you think he is. I haven’t met a better man and neither will you.”

I felt chills go through my body and I knew he was telling me the truth. I knew I had found in my Joseph everything that I had prayed for for so long. It scared me.

When Joseph returned President Jackson shook his hand and told us he would be performing two more weddings that following week. He asked if we would attend. We agreed and then with a little twinkle in his eye he said, “You know we could make it three!”

We both laughed, but later as Joseph was saying goodbye, a van full of missionaries and others from the wedding waiting to take me back to Lugazi, I considered for the first time what It might be not to have to say goodbye to him. He held me and we tried to ignore the eyes watching us. “You have to go, he whispered, they are waiting for you. “ I clung to him wanting more than the simple goodbye hug but knowing it wasn’t possible there with everybody watching, so I said goodbye and started the long drive back to Lugazi. The next morning my first thought upon waking up was, I could be marrying Joseph next week! The thought was surprisingly appealing.

The next day I met with President Jackson for a temple recommend interview. After seeing that here in Uganda a temple recommend wasn’t so much about the ability to GO to the temple but a sign of your WORTHINESS to attend the temple, I felt ashamed at having let mine expire just because I didn’t think I would be needing it in Uganda. President explained to me a bit about blacks and the gospel and about the church’s position on interracial marriage. We also talked at length about Joseph, about my relationship with him, about my fears and my concerns. He offered to give me a blessing. He gave me some very specific counsel and advice about things I should be doing and told me that no one could get this answer except me but that if I would listen very carefully and try my best to follow what my heart told me, it would not lead me astray.

President Jackson with a few members from the district.

President Jackson with a few members from the district.

My Whirlwind Romance part IV – “Are you gonna kiss me or not”

Someone pointed out to me the other day that I had left quite a few holes in my story. The truth is I just haven’t written. Pregnancy has taken so much out of me. I thought I was the most prepared person on the planet for having a baby, somehow I missed the memo about how hard pregnancy is. How tired it makes you and how much you eat! It’s been the most amazing adventure of my life. But here I am finally adding another chapter from my African romance,

My Whirlwind Romance Part IV

Since our first date Joseph and I had been talking to each other every day. One day about a week after our first date we were chatting on Facebook and he told me he loved me. I was kind of freaking out because when he said it, it was so different from the other random guys that would throw that term out at me on a daily bases. I knew he meant it and it scared me.

So…I taught him the meaning of “take a chill pill” and explained that he needed to do that in regards to me. I explained that Love is a pretty big word with deep meaning. He agreed and told me if I needed to talk he was ready to listen. I didn’t know what to do with his calm reassuring demeanor. He wasn’t put off by me at all and he wasn’t pushy just confidant and direct in his feelings. It scared me.

That weekend I went with him to have lunch with some of his good friends. Since things seemed to be moving so fast I was actively trying to discover his faults so when I got a minute alone with his friend’s wife as we were cooking lunch I asked her how well she knew Joseph.

She explained she had known him since he was about 11 and that he had been the one to baptize her. Everything she had to say about him was good. “Be real with me,” I told her, “I need to know what I’m getting myself into. What’s he like when he is angry?”

“Honestly I have never seen him angry before. He really is just what you see.”

That was pretty much the same response I had gotten from everyone else. I didn’t know whether to be frustrated that I wasn’t getting any dirt on him or happy that he seemed to be as wonderful as I thought he was.

That day he took me to his apartment; we sat on the couch and talked. It was interesting to see his personal touch in his apartment. I felt at home with him and comfortable in his living space.  We agreed that week that we would date only each other and we would move forward with this relationship.

The next day he came to Lugazi to speak in our branch. He sat up front and looked so formal and official it was hard to believe that was MY Joseph sitting up there, laughing and talking with my branch president. They started the meeting and announced that President Ssempala would be presiding at the meeting. “President Ssempala”, it fit the man in the suit. I was a little startled to realize that the President Ssempala they were referring to was MY BOYFRIEND! People who preside at church are old men, not handsome kind men who smiled at me the way he did. I watched him wondering when and how this had happened. He looked up at me and winked. I blushed knowing that I probably wasn’t the only one in the congregation to notice.

"President Ssempala"

“President Ssempala”

As he was speaking his eyes caught mine several times and each time a huge smile would break out on his face. It gave me butterflies.

My Joseph

My Joseph

After church we went back to my apartment and watched The Last of the Mohicans.

The movie ended and we sat cuddled up on the makeshift couch. His arms tightened around me. “I love you,” he whispered to me again.

This time instead of asking him to take a chill pill I decided to take a different approach. “I know you do,” I said “Just tell me why? Every day people here claim they love me. I know you are different, but I just want you to tell me why it should mean more coming from you. I want to know why you love me.”

“I’m glad you asked”, he said, “I made a list”

He then started talking in great detail about various character traits that he had seen in me; he talked about how he had noticed them in me and why they were important to him. He reminded me of things that I had told him and experiences that we had together that had increased his feelings for me. Just as I was starting to feel a little insecure that maybe he only loved me for my ‘Sweet spirit” he told me that he thought I was beautiful and that he had put my picture as the wallpaper on his phone.

When he had said all he wanted to say, I was quiet for a few minutes, thinking of how I should respond. In all honesty I felt the same way about him and could have given him just as long of a list. I could have told him how my soul had longed for someone who would be as sure of his love for me and as confident in his desire to move forward as he was. I could have told him how I trusted him, how I could see the goodness in his heart and the proof of it in his actions. I could have told him how his optimism and continual smile brightened my day and made me feel so much more capable myself. I could have told him that I loved him. Finally I knew how to answer. “So are you going to kiss me now or are you going to leave me hanging all night…”

He didn’t leave me hanging.

This awful photo had to be included since it was taken just minutes after our first kiss.

This awful photo had to be included since it was actually taken (from skype) on that day.

The funny thing about Mathmatics

-1

I remember being a little kid and singing a song that went something like this, Joseph and Vilate (I just inserted our names here, I didn’t know back then that I would marry Joseph) sitting in a tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G. first comes LOVE then comes MARRIAGE, soon they’ll have a baby carriage. I didn’t really understand what It meant but to me all I knew was that it was some kind of horrible insult to sing that song with someone’s name in it. Especially if the two people DIDN”T like each other!

 

Well I found out what that means, it means that when you fall in love and get married a baby is soon to follow. Little did I know HOW SOON. So yes if you haven’t figured it out already. IM PREGNANT! It’s a moment that I have waited for and dreamed of most of my life.

It’s something that I thought I was SO ready for, and that I was going to just breeze through, because I would just be so grateful that I was pregnant that when a little nausea came along I would just laugh in its face and think how glad I am that a baby is growing inside me.

Reality took me by surprise, and as I leaned over that bucket throwing up memories of last years food, because I sure haven’t been able to get much down lately, being grateful that I was pregnant never crossed my mind. Now that’s not to say that I am not grateful, because I am and every day I find myself holding the place in my belly where I know that precious little body is growing and thinking that I would do anything to protect it. But in those moments when your body is starving and just wants food, and your stomach is being contrary and doesn’t have the first idea what it will accept and changes its mind every two minutes on what it wants to try and then promptly throws up what you do give it. It’s not gratitude that is first and foremost in your mind.  It’s usually pickles, or hamburgers, corn or Green Jello ( I don’t even eat green jello at home I have no idea where that one came from).

So now days I fall to sleep listening to the beautiful relaxing hypno birth recordings and dreaming of the day I will hold my baby in my arms and I wake in the middle of the night needing food, and other unmentionables, and just plain not being able to sleep. I cry for no good reason and sometimes for very good reasons. And its nothing I imagined, and everything I imagined and as Joseph kisses my belly in the morning and tells me to take care of his baby, I fill full. Plumb full of a Joy I never knew existed.

My Whirlwind romance part III “The Mazungu” (White person)

Every week I went to get a large jug of drinking water for our apartment at Gapco. The man that works there is an Indian man and he seems very friendly. On this particular day as I was waiting for the water he asked me how long I was going to be in Uganda. I told him and he told me he would like to take me on a date. I was caught completely off guard by that and wasn’t sure how I was going to answer, then he asked me if I would be willing to meet him at the Rainforest Lodge. We can have something to eat and go swimming if you like he told me.

The Rainforest Lodge is a beautiful lodge in the middle of the rainforest. I had never been there before but I had heard about how incredible it was. I also knew it was the most expensive place in town and that I probably wouldn’t afford a trip there on my own. I was also pleased that he wasn’t suggesting that he pick me up but that I meet him, in a public place, so I figured what would it hurt, I might as well go. DSC00510

Joseph and I had been talking on the phone for a few minutes every night so I told him that I would be coming to the Rainforest and since it was almost halfway to Jinja I might as well continue on and come see him. It had been several days since we had seen each other. So we agreed to meet at the chapel near Two Friends.

That morning I went to a school to volunteer for the day. It was good but also a little overwhelming. There were so many children and each one of them wanted to hold my hand. At one point there were about 60 children all clustered around me, each one trying to get closer than the other and all of them trying to hold my hand, or my dress, or touch my hair. For a person who doesn’t much like to be touched it was pushing my boundaries about as far as I could take them.

Finally when they got so many and the weight of them started to make it impossible to walk, I found myself losing my balance I started falling over so I stopped and made them let go. “Gende, Gende” (go away) I said, and then feeling a little bad I felt like I should explain “You are too many!” Then 60 little voices followed me all around the school chanting “you are too many, you are too many” I had to smile. DSC00497

It was touching and also a bit saddening to see the conditions of the school. The crowded classroom had no lights, just the light that came through the openings for windows that had no glass. Benches resembling those that children in Colonial America had used were crowded with far too many children.  There were no books, except one little notebook for each child. The children sang for me and I taught them some new songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azTp0LJ825g&feature=youtu.be

Finally it came time for me to leave the school and head to the Rainforest lodge, Although I wasn’t really interested in the guy, I was still excited about the date. The long walk to the lodge was beautiful, I saw monkeys swinging from the trees and everywhere was beautiful butterflies in the most vibrant of colors. I arrived before my date and recognized a friend who had come to enjoy the quiet of the lodge to get some work done. We visited until my date arrived. The lodge was comfortable and clean in a way that I hadn’t often experienced in Uganda.

My date arrived and we decided to head to the swimming pool to do some swimming, we would have dinner later. As we were walking through the beautiful, secluded pathways he reached for my hand, I pulled it away, but he tried again. I pulled it away again and said “no.” I felt so uncomfortable; I had never had to do that before on a date. We continued to the pool and I enjoyed cooling off in the water as I hadn’t been swimming since I arrived. Again in the water he tried to touch me and to hold my hand and each time I pulled away shaking my head and saying “no” Finally I couldn’t take anymore so I told him “you know what I need to be heading back, I have another appointment.”

The pool at the Rainforest Lodge. It was so refreshing!

The pool at the Rainforest Lodge. It was so refreshing!

He offered to drive me but I told him that my work had already sent a boda boda to get me. He asked if we could take a picture together and I agreed. He stood behind me and put his arms around me hugging me to him and putting his cheek against mine, I tried to pull away but he held me there. After the picture he continued to hold me close to him and we started walking. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to get him to let go of me without bringing it to a full fight and I didn’t feel like I would win. I waited until we were in a more populated area and then I pulled away from him more forcefully. He finally let go of me and I headed to the front gate. I found a boda boda and started driving back to the main road. I felt like crying.

AS we rode the boda driver said, “Mazungu, are you married?” I told him I wasn’t and he asked how old I was. I told him and then he said, I think you are good for me. You should marry me and take me to America. People often made comments like that to me but after what I had just been through I didn’t feel capable of laughing it off. “Why?” I said, “You don’t even know me all you see is my white skin and you think I have money, that’s all you want. How do you know I wouldn’t be a horrible wife? How do you know I wouldn’t beat you and yell at you? You don’t want to marry me”

He laughed, “You would be a good wife, I know” he told me, “Why won’t you marry me?”

I couldn’t believe he was asking this as a legitimate question and I wanted to just get off the boda and walk the long way back to the road, but I couldn’t.

“Do you know how many times a day I get asked that question?” I asked him. “I wish people here would see more than my white skin.” He continued talking but I was finished with that conversation and I just listened refusing to argue any further with him. He dropped me off with a friendly smile and a wave and left me to board the taxi headed for Jinja. I would be so glad to arrive and see Joseph.

On the taxi, they had squeezed five of us on to a seat made for 3. The man seated next to me kept getting closer even than I felt he needed to. He kept trying to lay his head on my shoulder and touch my hair. Finally he said, “Mazungu, give me your contacts.” I stared straight ahead, afraid I would cry if I had to go through this all over again. Who knew that adoration could also be a form of racism? I was DONE being “Mazungu” being loved for the color of my skin, being shouted at everywhere I went from children, to adults, I was tired of being told to buy people drinks or to give people my watch, or being hassled by shop keepers and taxi and boda drivers, I was tired of my race defining who I was.

The man continued in spite of my refusal to talk to him. “Mazungu, I love you he said, give me your contacts.”

“No”

“Why,” he asked

“Because I don’t want to. I don’t know you and I don’t want to know you. ” I thought perhaps my curt reply would put him off but I was not so lucky.

“Just give me your contacts” he continued, just give me your number that is all.

Others on the taxi were starting to look at us. I continued to refuse to look at him and eventually stopped answering him altogether. Finally after what seemed an eternity I arrived at Two Friends and got off the taxi. As soon as the taxi left a man approached me. “Mazungu,” he said, “be my girlfriend.”

“I have a boyfriend already,” I exaggerated the truth a bit. I am here to meet him.

“No, you can be my girlfriend”, he persisted.

“No, you leave me alone. “ I said,

“One day you will dream of me, I know,” he said as he walked away.

I stood on the corner waiting for Joseph and fighting back tears. I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to stay here one more minute. I didn’t even want to see Joseph. I didn’t even know why I was going on a date with him anyway. He was no different than all those others; I had just somehow fallen for his advances when I hadn’t the others. I needed to put a stop to all of this and I needed to go home. I closed my eyes wishing that when I opened them I would be home and praying that no one else would speak to me. If one more person told me they loved me I would probably gauge their eyes out with my bare hands.

After a few minutes Joseph arrived, He looked so comforting and refreshingly put together, I wanted to throw my arms around his neck and have a good cry. I forgot about him being like all the others.

“I’m sorry I’m late” He said, I was on the taxi and it was taking so long I almost jumped out and took a boda boda to try to get here faster. But I brought this for you.” He pulled a Snickers bar from his pocket and handed it to me. I had told him on our first date that I loved Snickers, but I had not seen one in Uganda. I was impressed that he had remembered and tracked one down for me.

As we walked I poured out my woes about my day. Starting with the children, pulling on me and almost tackling me in the desire to be close to me.  As I told him he laughed. “Why are you laughing?” I asked genuinely perplexed as to why my sorry situation would have him in stitches.

“I’m sorry I don’t mean to laugh,” he said “keep going”

I continued with my story and by the time I finished telling him about that man’s parting comment of “You will dream about me, I know” he was laughing so hard he almost couldn’t stay standing.

“It wasn’t funny! It was horrible!” I said.

“I know, I’m sorry” he said, trying to keep a straight face, “but you have to admit it’s kind of funny. I keep picturing you trying to fend off all those kids, telling the boda driver you might beat him, ignoring the man in the taxi as he is putting his head on your shoulder, and it’s kind of funny!”

I started laughing; there was some humor in the situation. “I’m sorry you had a hard day though,” he said more seriously.

I squeezed his hand. “Thanks, it’s getting better now.”

He took me to Forever Resort and we sat on the banks of the river and watched the sun go down. He told me about his Grandma who had died recently of Alzheimer’s. He said that towards the end she didn’t remember anyone. The last time he had gone to see her she had been unable to feed herself and he got to sit and feed her. As she ate she opened her eyes and looked at him, then she smiled “Joseph, she said, you look so much like your father, he always loved you best.” She died the next day. Joseph told me he would always cherish the fact that he got that chance to care for her and that in that final moment she remembered who he was. It was a beautiful story and I made a mental note to watch The Notebook with him.

We ordered a pizza and some sodas and sat and ate and continued to talk. He told me about how shocked he was when he returned from his mission in South Africa and saw the living conditions in Uganda. Even though it was his home he was ashamed and embarrassed to see the contrast of how people here lived compared to how they did in other countries. His own family had suffered some serious financial losses and he returned to find his home and everything they had owned gone. He spent his first night home sleeping on the floor.

I took a late taxi and returned home later that night. Joseph promised he would see me on Sunday as he was coming to Lugazi to speak to our branch.