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.

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The funny thing about Mathmatics

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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.

Life in Lugazi

It’s been a week. The newness and the strangeness of it all is starting to wear off and I am starting to settle into a bit of a routine. I have done my first laundry and it was good. A LOT of work. But good. I fully intend to bring some of their laundry soap home as my whites came out whiter than the clean ones I hadn’t washed yet, and as I scrubbed I was surprised that spots came out so easily.

My daily late afternoon showers is one of my favorite things. Funny since that was one of the few things I was concerned about before I came. But I love it and look forward to it every day. My friend Emined went with me to get a cell phone. It’s nice to feel a bit more connected now and I can even text the US a bit.

Emined in front of the cathedral

Emined in front of the cathedral

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This is one of the panels about the Ugandan Martyrs. In case you can’t read it it says. I am a Christian Kill me.

At the cathedral we ran into a man named Simon Peter, he was teaching a large group of children on the steps of the cathedral. I was impressed with how well-behaved they were. He had probably 50 children and they all sat quietly listening to him speak, they would repeat things together and he had their full attention. He left for a moment to see about opening the chapel for us to go inside and while he was gone Emined and I got a chance to visit a little with the children. I asked them what they were learning about. They all sat there silently, just looking at me with their big dark eyes. Finally one brave little girl spoke up. “We are learning about Jesus” she said. I pushed them a little farther hoping to get more of them talking. What are you learning about Jesus” I asked, There were a few giggles from the group this time, but still no one answered. After awhile the same little girl spoke up. “That he loves us” she said. I was touched at her simple declaration and the truth of her statement hit me hard. I think she must have believed what she said. But I wonder if she could ever really know how true that is. I wonder if any of us could know how true that is.

Me with the children

Me with the children

I showed Emined the Musana workshop and Harriett, one of the women taught him how to make paper beads. They sat together talking, listening to Emined’s music (Just a side note: I was surprised to hear a familiar voice in one of the songs we listened to. It was one of Jessie Clarke Funk’s songs. I wondered how she would feel to know that clear across the world people are listening to and enjoying her music) and making strings of beads for several hours. Harriett is one of the hardest working women I have met. She reminded me a lot of “Mother Clean.” No matter what is going on around her she just keeps going, working quietly and efficiently. The other day a mad man came to the shop, he wondered inside and sat on the workbench and started picking things up and looking at them. One by one the women came and started telling him to leave. “Get Out”they shouted at him. Soon the whole room was full of angry women protecting their space and each other. Through it all Harriett just kept right on making her beads and hanging the strings of beads up on the line across the door way. Harriett has aids, she caught it from her husband who didn’t realize he had it for many years until he became sick and died from it. Their two daughters have it as well. Now they all take care of each other. Her English is very good and she has a great sense of humor. I feel a sense of affection for her already. I am going to be making some videos about the women. I have been making a list of ideas of questions for them. I would love to hear any suggestions you have of things you would like to know, or would find interesting.

Harriet. she is such a strong woman!

Harriet. she is such a strong woman!

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You ate what?

Before I came here a friend who had pretty extensive experience traveling told me to try to get past the initial shock and learn to just enjoy it as quickly as possible. I confess that I wasn’t entirely sure what he was talking about. Now I am. I remember my first day in Alaska, being horribly disappointed because when I thought of Alaska I thought of pristine mountain vistas, fishing, and  being surrounded by the beauties of nature. That first night there and the first few days that followed all I could see were the drunk homeless people who sat on the curbs and  wandered the streets that smelled of beer and urine. However I soon came to see past all of that and when I remember Juneau, I remember the waterfalls cascading off the mountain that I could see from  our apartment window. I remember late nights with the sun not ever completely gone down fishing in the channel on the outskirts of town. I remember the fog, the sunshine, the wildlife and the beautiful mountain vistas that often literally took my breath away.

I think it is easy at first to project your own standards of what should be on a community that is so different from your own. I think this must be what my friend was talking about. And so I have decided to look past the things about this place that I don’t understand or don’t like and try to just experience it so that when I leave I will have memories just as treasured as the ones I came home from Alaska with.

I came to this conclusion as I sat in a crowded taxi stuck in traffic in Kampala. I was so frustrated at the apparent lack of a system. The taxis that really function a lot more like busses have no specific route, with no specific time-table. The fare is not set or standardized and I didn’t see one street sign on the whole journey of over two hours to help me determine my location. Since I am trying to familiarize myself with this place so that when Ellen leaves in a few weeks and I need to make these trips myself I can know what I am doing, this was especially frustrating.

On the road to Kampala

On the road to Kampala

We sat in the very back seat of a van filled to capacity and beyond. I couldn’t see around the heads that were blocking my view of the road and in the jerky stop and go traffic I was getting quite sick. The roads here are far from smooth and as we rattled along I often found myself bouncing so far off my seat that several times I almost hit my head on the ceiling. I thought of my dad’s little story he always tells of my great, great, grandparents and their first experience in a car and I couldn’t help but hear his voice saying “Did you raise, Jane?” as I would try to lift myself off the seat a little so as not to get the full impact of the bumps. By the time we arrived in Kampala I was so ready to get off that bus and I didn’t care if I ever saw one again. Kampala is an experience.

Kampala Taxi park

Kampala Taxi park

We went to a a little coffee shop called 1000 cups and I ordered a plate of fruit and some juice. It was delicious and refreshing. The lounge style dinning room was comfortable and cool and I felt refreshed and ready for this experience.

Ellen bargaining for ear rings.

Ellen bargaining for ear rings.

We went to a market where Ellen was looking for gifts to take home to her friends and family. It was good for me to watch her bargain and talk to these people. I think it will help me in the future when I need to do the same. Ellen is very good at disagreeing with people, expressing differences of opinion, even questioning their honesty and doing it all with a smile, a laugh and leaving with a new friend.

In one shop after a heated debate over whether the jewelry was truly made from cow bone or whether it was wood that was just painted, Ellen and the shop keeper played a game together laughing and talking the whole time. We ended up buying several things from them before going on our way. There was a man walking around with a bucket filled with fried grasshoppers. He was selling them and one of the women offered one to me. I gave her an emphatic no but then Ellen and some of the others encouraged me to try it and I thought why not. After all I am here in Africa I might as well really experience Africa. So I ate one. It wasn’t at all bad as long as you didn’t think too much about it.

On the way home I sat in the very front seat of the taxi and actually found I enjoyed the ride. The country side is beautiful, there is always something interesting to see and the cool air from the open windows, blowing in my face felt wonderful.

Restless Nights

I discovered another house guest. I was laying in bed reading by the light of a little lantern that I keep next to my bed, just as I was about to turn it out and go to sleep I saw a shadow moving along the wall near the ceiling. I looked up and it was a gecko. I watched it walked around for a while and then it found the bathroom door with my towel hanging on a hook from the back side of it and it promptly climbed down and nestled in the towel. I vowed then and there that I would never put on clothes or a towel or anything without checking it first. I am not afraid of it but it does make me a little uneasy and I decided that I would hang my mesquito net first thing in the morning. I think it will make me feel a bit more comfortable.

Today was my first real day here. After a little breakfast Ellen and I walked to the Musana workshop. As we walked up to the shop the doors were wide open and a group of women all sat together working. They started to sing when they saw us, a little song that they learned as children in school. It was set to the music of she’ll be coming round the mountain, only the words were “we are happy to receive you, welcome”

It’s interesting because people will come up to you and shake your hand and say You’re Welcome, and it throws me off because it sound like I should have said thankyou first. Its kind of silly I guess when you think about it that in America we say you’re welcome to someone who has said thankyou. It actually makes more sense as a greeting.

I sat and helped the women sort beads and tried to get to know them a little. They are very friendly and nice but I think English doesn’t come as easily to most of them as I thought it might so they are not as talkative as I wish. Two of the women brought their babies with them and I was shocked when I held one and realized that he had wet through his diaper and nobody seemed to care. Than I realized that, actually since they don’t have disposable diapers or diaper covers to keep the wet from coming through babies are probably all wet like that. As I have noticed other babies, many of them just go naked on the bottom and I can only assume that their mothers find it easier that way.

Again I blessed the hand sanitizer that mother sent.

After working with the women for a few hours I decided that a quick walk back to the house would be good. I had been wanting to see if I trusted myself to find the way alone and since Ellen was busy working I headed out for a little walk. I thought I had a pretty good idea where I was going but before long things started to look unfamiliar and then I came to the sugar cane fields that mark the edge of town and I knew I had gone too far. I retraced my steps looking for a turn that I might have missed. Suddenly I saw a large black sign that said The church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints and I knew right where I was. The church is just around the corner from my house so I was able to find the little alley way between two buildings that I had forgotten and made it home.

To shy to come close

To shy to come close

I gathered a few things and filled my pockets with candy thinking that I might as well start to get to know the kids and what better bribery than pockets full of candy. As I was walking back it wasn’t long before children started waving to me and shouting Mazungu! So I reached in my pocket and pulled out a piece of candy and offered it to them. Soon my pockets where empty and I continued my walk. Several hours later as I sat working in the open doors of the Musana workshop I heard children whispering and I heard Mazungu which has almost started to feel like my name. I looked up and saw a small handful of children lingering by the road next to the workshop, grinning shyly at me. I suspect that word of the Mazungu with pockets full of candy had gone around and they had come looking for me. They sat there giggling shyly at me, for some time but I had nothing to give them so they soon wandered away.

waiting for Mazungu

waiting for Mazungu

I had my first boda boda ride today. Ellen and I had run out of drinkable water so we went to get some. The large jar was heavy so we decided to take a boda on the way home. After dinner I tried to stay awake so that I could sleep through the night but the power had been out all day, the computers where dead and without lights or computers or anything to do and feeling so sleepy I finally gave in and went to bed at about 7.

I was awakened by the sound of drums and shouting, shrill whistles and screams and singing. I lay there wondering what in the world was going on but when the sound continued for about an hour I decided to go check it out. My watch said it was 1:30. I unlocked the pad lock that we use to lock our door and let myself out into the courtyard. I had forgotten about the gate and found it locked with a pad lock as well and since I didn’t have a key to that I stood there trying to decide what to do and how I was going to get out when I heard a sound. One of the men that lives in our little compound was standing at the blanket that serves as a door to his little apartment. He asked if I needed something and I told him that I wanted to go out. He had a key and opened the gate for me. When you come back just knock and I will let you in he told me.

I hadn’t thought to bring a light with me so I took my time walking carefully down the road toward the sound of the music and voices, Soon I came to some kind of a warehouse. People were standing near the doorways watching and I joined them. Inside was a born again Christian revival meeting. I had never seen anything like that before. The preacher was shouting, people where wailing and whistling and the music was blaring. People would get up and walk to the front of the room shaking their hips in ways I didn’t know hips were capable of moving and holding their hands in the air they would dance, their eyes closed and their faces turned toward the sky.

I stood in the door way and a man offered me his seat. I declined saying I was only going to watch for a minute. Then a women came and took my hand and led to me to front of the room and offered me a chair on the second row. I sat and watched entranced by the strangeness of these people’s worship. At one point the preacher started to speak somewhat in English. I could only make out a few words here and there but he was looking right at me and I gathered that he wanted me to come up on the platform. He came down and offered me his hand and I pretended shyness and refused to get up. Honestly I just had no idea what it was that they wanted me to do. After watching for an hour or so I went back home and knocked quietly on the gate. The man let me in and I went back to bed but the noise continued until the sun came up so I didn’t sleep much.

The Fall Colors came…But the Sunshine Went Away

Let me introduce you to the color in my life.

Her name is Shaylee.

My brother and his wife were pregnant with her when they got married. When she was born we all fell in love, pretty instantly. She was so full of personality even as a baby. She developed a little crush on my boyfriend at the early age of about 8 months. It was cute to watch her flirt with him, leaning toward him, fluttering her eyelashes at him and smiling at him from across the table. He couldn’t believe that such a little girl could have such a big personality.

She let everyone know that she was in charge. She saw all other children as babies and herself as big enough to take care of them. She literally brought so much sunshine into our lives. My seventeen year old little sister became something of a mom to her as she was her nanny. The whole family got to benefit as she was at the house all day every day. She kept us laughing with her funny little antics. She would tip her head back and say “Nice” in a long drawn out lazy kind of voice. She would say sorry for everything. If she hurt herself and cried, when you picked her up to hold her she would say “sorry, sorry”

She would spin in a circle and giggle when she couldn’t stay standing. Shaylee sang and danced and head bobbed, She was everybody’s sweetheart.

One day she woke me by coming into my room and sitting on top of me in bed. Once I was awake she went to my chair where I had put my clothes when I undressed the night before and picked up my bra. She looked at it for a minute and said, “What’s this huh?” Then she put it on her head like a hat and started dancing around the room.

She is fascinated with clocks and will take you by the hand and lead you around the house looking for all the “crocks”

She knows exactly where grandma keeps her chocolate. She will go to the office and peek into the cupboard and say “grandma…crockit?”

One day she was playing and wanting alot of attention. My little sister, Esther, was starting to get a little annoyed with her, so when she came in the kitchen where Esther was and started pulling on her and saying “Etu, Etu, Etu” (her version of Esther) Esther turned to her and said “WHAT!” Shaylee puckered up her lips and said “Tiss”

She is very sensitive to moods and will often climb up on your lap and say “Happy?”

She has mastered the surprised face, the happy face, and the mad face and will do them whenever you ask her. She loves swings and gets so excited when she knows you are going to the park. She loves cats and dogs and animals of all kinds. She is fearless when it comes to water and will go down the water slide at her grandparents house and into the pool all by herself and always comes up laughing.

She loves brooms and will be perfectly happy sweeping the floor.

My brother and his wife are now divorced. She lives in Idaho and he lives here. Shaylee left to go live with her mother last week. It was really hard to see her go. We will probably not see her for some time. How do you say goodbye to a little girl like that and let her go without breaking down?

How do you even explain to her what is happening and how do you have any confidence that she will be taken care of, that her needs will be met, that she will live a happy, healthy, life. In reality you can’t. You can try, you can hope, you can even pray, but in the end you are powerless.

I found this out when I was 18 and went through a similar situation with another niece. I learned how to let go and realize that if I loved her for one minute, that was one minute more than she might have had and I had to be happy with that. I realized that if she had stability, affection, safety, and an environment where all her needs where met for a year that was one year that she might not have had. In the end I had to realize that I can’t control her life, I can’t control her future, and I can’t control her decisions or the decisions her parents make.

So how do you say goodbye? I still don’t know but I can tell you how we did. We took her for a picnic in the mountains to see the fall colors. We let her run up and down trails with my sisters and I following close behind enjoying her antics and her happiness.

We sang her favorite song with her. A song that took on a whole new meaning for us.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

You make me happy, when skies are gray,

you’ll never know dear how much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

As we enjoyed the brilliant reds, pinks and every possible shade of green and orange, I couldn’t help but think about how fitting it was for the day.

Fall signals the end of an era. Summer with all of its fun, and warmth has gone. It was wonderful while it lasted but it’s time for something else. I know it will be wonderful too. I know the brilliant white of the freshly fallen snow will dazzle me just as the fall colors are doing now. The circle of life continues, and somehow we all move along with it. We smile, we laugh and we just keep going.

We tried to soak in the last minutes with Shaylee. I held her while she slept and treasured the feel of her in my arms. Then I kissed her and let her go.

“The other night dear, as I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms

But when I woke up I was mistaken

and I hung my head and I cried.”

We love you Shaylee!

Obsessive about Blogging?…Not Me!

We think we grow up and become mature sophisticated adults. Really I think we don’t our interests and challenges simply change.

When I was a kid I was so impatient. I was the kid that would ask are we there yet? Every two minutes until my brothers would threaten to tickle me till I cried or hold me down and dangle that long slimy gubber over my face, if I didn’t be quite. I was that kid who counted the pennies in my piggy bank several times a day to see if there were still the same number there.

Im still that way. I still check the fridge several times within an hour to see if there is anything there that wasnt before. I still get super impatient about… well lets be honest pretty much everything. And I find myself checking my blog stats and then refreshing after just a few minutes to see if there are more. Its like ive gotten greedy about views. I don’t mean to be but seeing that number go higher and higher and break previous records is somewhat exhilarating.  I just had my first 100 + view day. It made my day. And now I sit here wondering, am I really a blogger who blogs about blogging? Does that make it official…I am really truly a die-hard blogger?

Lets look at the facts.

1.) I find myself thinking in everyday situations and conversations “Hey I’m gonna write a post about that.”

2.) I’m obsessed with becoming Freshly Pressed. Ok so maybe not obsessed but I have a secret desire to one day see a post of mine freshly pressed, I read the other FP blogs and think, what do they have that I don’t? I look at the intimidating number of blog posts on wordpress and shudder as I think of my blog being just one of many, How will they ever find me to give me the credit I deserve?

3.) I am excited to come home from work to check my views. Often its the first thing I do when I come in the house. I promise I do have a life, it’s just that well…I guess there is no excuse for the slightly OCD way in which I watch my stats.

4.) I love comments! I get that email letting me know that I have a comment to moderate and I get so excited! I might go into an adrenaline overdose if I did ever get freshly pressed and got a lot of comments.

5.) I know what the Versatile Blogger award is…and I want one!

6.) I look longingly at other posts that have dozens if not hundreds of comments and I get a little envious

7.) I find myself making lists about things I want to do on my blog. But then I make lists about everything so maybe that one doesn’t really count.

8.) I read articles and other blogs about blogging

9.) I’ve taken to staying up WAY to late reading random blogs

10.) Actually I think that’s it! And since I couldn’t even come up with 10 symptoms of being a die-hard blogger I guess I can safely assume that I am just like everyone else out there. Or at least, in regards to blogging.