Missing Uganda

Today some good friends of ours will be leaving Uganda after serving 18 months as senior missionaries. This couple was so much help to Joseph and I and felt almost like parents to me. I am so excited to see them. Sister Casperson posted this goodbye to Uganda and the people there on her facebook.

Packing suitcases for our flight on Thursday night. Hard to believe that our mission is already coming to an end. We will miss Uganda and the lovely people we’ve met here. But, we’re looking forward to seeing our two grand babies we’ve never met and our children and grandchildren who have always been on our minds. Thank you for the support of all who have written, texted, skyped, and talked with us. Thank you to the Ugandan members who have loved us so much for the little we’ve done. We have gained much from them, and hope that as we go home, they will remember us from time-to-time and keep faithful to the gospel. We will be cheering right along with you when it is announced that Jinja District is Jinja Stake. Good luck to those of you getting married soon. We are sad we will miss those weddings, but so very, very happy that you’ve found your eternal companions! Remember to FB photos! Trust our Heavenly Father, believe Him, do what He asks you to do, and we will meet again as the Lord brings us into His fold to help accomplish His work until the end.

As I read this a realized how they must be feeling right now I remembered my own bitter sweet homecoming from that country. I was so excited to get home and see my family and eat familiar food and hopefully start feeling better. Yet I was so sad to leave my husband of two short months and all the sweet, wonderful people I had met while I was there.

Life in Uganda wasn’t easy for me but in so many ways it was so wonderful! Here are a few pictures from my last few days there that my husband rescued from a broken memory card.

Most women in Uganda just cook and wash dishes in pots on the floor. I wasnt cut  out for that so with Joseph’s help I tmy own little kitchen.IMG_1640Joseph found this little water jug and put a spout on it for me. IMG_1641The counter top was a piece of plywood that we covered with laminate flooring and nailed to the top of a broken cabinet that Joseph had planned to throw out. I sewed some curtains and strung them up on string.IMG_1643IMG_1642

A cutting board and a few jars from sister Casperson and a basket I found in the market completed my counter top. I pounded a few nails into the side of the cabinet to hang hot pads and towels on and Joseph found us a little fridge. Our little kitchen was complete and served us well!.

IMG_1644A veiw from the other side of the room shows the rest of our living area. Our first little home will always bring such sweet memories!

IMG_1645Our bed, with a broken fan that Joseph had. By cutting a small whole in the sheet that surved as a curtain and stringing some string through the bars on the windows I was able to tie our fan up in such a way that we had cool air blowing on us all night long. You cant see the mosquito net that hung above our bed but I loved the feeling of pulling it all around us at night and sleeping in its peaceful cocoon. IMG_1646 Our closet. This picture was taken the day I left so my clothes were already packed.

IMG_1630IMG_1628Sister Amina and Sister Dunba cam to help me pack the day before I left. We had so much fun that day. I miss these women.

IMG_1665This is the home Joseph grew up in. IMG_1655Juju (Grandma) Joseph’s mother, and us just before leaving to the airport.

Josephs brother Sekimuli and his wife.IMG_1668IMG_1651IMG_1618IMG_1649Joseph with his uncle, his mothet and some nieces and nephew. Jospeh with his sisters Tinah and AsherIMG_1604IMG_1597

First Night

DSC00193I am in Entebbe, Uganda. It seems like just yesterday that I randomly saw a post from a friend on facebook about an Internship in Uganda, and thought “would I be crazy to consider going there for the summer?” I had plans to go to DC for to do a paid internship and to get some great business experience, while possibly learning more about how our government is run. Yet here I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I left Salt Lake City two days ago. I flew to New York where I caught a plane for Amsterdam. I have always dreamed of going to Europe and especially to Holland during the tulip festival. It killed me to be there at this time of year and see nothing outside the airport. I did take this picture, as I was thinking of my mom and her love of tulips. She would have loved these beautiful boxes filled with tulips that line the hallways of the airport in Amsterdam.

I found the gate where my plane would leave for Rwanda. Two black ladies were sitting chatting and when I sat near them they struck up a conversation with me, asking me where I was going and giving me lots of friendly, helpful advise. I left my bags where I could see them and ordered a sprite. When I returned the ladies gave me a little lecture about how I should never leave my bags even for a second. They told me that in Uganda I would meet many people like them who would be friendly and kind and I would be tempted to trust them, but “If you do and you leave your things where you can’t touch them, even for a second, you will come back and they will be gone!” they told me.

I had to go through another security check leaving Amsterdam but the plane ride to Rwanda was not as uncomfortable as the others had been since the plane was not full so I had the whole row to myself. The armrests did not move so I had to try to maneuver around them to sleep. I decided that plane rides are neither here nor there, the seats are almost comfortable, they allow you to almost fall asleep, the food is almost tasty and the drinks almost enough. There is almost enough room for me to stretch my legs, and I almost feel sick the whole time.

The plane only stopped briefly in Rwanda and then we were off for Uganda. As I exited the plane the air was thick with the sickly sweet smell of many bodies, rain water, and something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I went through immigrations and got my visa and then gathered my bags from baggage claim. I was told that someone from a hostel called “Backpackers” would be meeting me and to look for a sign with my name on it. I scanned the line of people holding signs, but didn’t see one, someone suggested trying outside. I stepped outside the door and almost immediately spotted my name on a sign. The man holding the sign wore a blue coat with the hood on and his head down. When he looked up, in the darkness I saw only his eyes. It frightened me for a moment and for just a second, I thought of Harry Potter and the Dementors. The man’s name was Collin and he helped me load my luggage into his car and laughed when I attempted to get in the wrong side of the car, since apparently in Africa the driver’s side is on the right.

We talked a little as we drove. Soon we came to a tall wooden gate, which was opened after a few seconds by another man. Collin led me into a small living room where I signed in and was taken to the dormitory.

DSC00200Inside the dormitory there were four sets of bunk beds. One of them was already occupied by an Israeli man named Nimrod. He told me his name with a chuckle and explained that someone had already told him that in America Nimrod means basically the same as Dork. We were told to keep the door locked from the inside and that if one of us left early we were to wake the other so that they could lock it again after us. We were both cautioned not to go outside of the gates alone as there were often people waiting in the bushes to jump you.

I guess I had slept enough on the plane, and since my bodies clock thought it was morning I wasn’t tired at all. I wondered how many before me had slept on the sheets and if they had been washed. Nimrod showed me outside to the shower and toilets. I had seen better in camp sites and I hoped I wouldn’t need to use it until morning.

Nimrod was friendly enough and we lay in our beds talking for several hours. He told me about his life in Israel, and answered my many questions about Judaism. Finally I thought since he had already been in bed when I got there I should let him sleep. After a few moments of silence, he whispered, “Vilate, are you asleep?” I told him that I wasn’t and didn’t expect that I would sleep much that night. “Tell me what it means to be a Mormon.” He asked.  I stumbled a little as I struggled where to begin and what to say to this man who did not even believe in Jesus Christ.

I decided to start with God. I explained how we believe that he is literally the Father of our spirits and how we refer to him as Heavenly Father. I explained that we believe that Jesus Christ is his son and that when we die,, we have the opportunity to become Gods like them.

He asked about marriage and if we could marry outside of our religion. I explained to him that we can, but that because of our beliefs in our ability to progress eternally and because we believe that the best kind of marriage starts with a temple ceremony that will seal us together for all eternity, it only makes sense to marry someone who also believes those same things and can participate fully with us in the temple.

We talked about our similar beliefs about the Sabbath, the word of wisdom, and saving sex for marriage. Finally we fell silent and after a few moments he whispered again. “Goodnight Vilate.”

I lay there trying to sleep aDSC00197nd pretending that I didn’t feel the need to visit the outdoor bathroom. But after a while I couldn’t deny it any longer and I slipped from underneath the mosquito netting, pulled my dress over my head and headed outside. The door is reinforced with bars, like what you might imagine to see in a prison and it took me a little while to figure out how to unlock the door. I eased it open, careful not to wake Nimrod and stepped out into the darkness. The bathroom door wouldn’t lock and there was no light so I hoped for the best, did what I came to do and went back inside. I couldn’t find anywhere to wash my hands so I made a mental note to make good use of the hand sanitizer I had brought with me.

I woke this morning early, surprised that I had indeed slept. It was raining quite hard and yet there were so many birds twittering outside the window that I couldn’t begin to distinguish between their many sounds. I am quite sure that some of the sounds I heard were monkeys. Nimrod is still sleeping and I am not sure what I am expected to do at this point. I understand that someone will be picking me up today, but I am not sure when or if I should try to call someone. I hear voices so I may go inside and see what I can find out. So until next time…DSC00199

Off we go on an adventure!

I remember when I was a little girl, going into our storage room and just standing there looking at all the food. I would imagine that we fell on hard times and had to ration the food to make sure it was going to last. Eventually that would lead to daydreaming about Ethiopia. As every kid knows Ethiopia is where are the really poor kids are that would be happy for your oatmeal mush. I would day-dream that I would go there with nothing but a handful of corn and little by little I would work my way into owning a mansion and employing dozens of locals and completely changing the village that I lived in. That’s what I day dreamed about when I was nine years old and supposed to be doing the laundry.

Yesterday, I got some exciting news. I am going to Uganda. Not with a handful of corn and not to make my fortune but to hopefully make an impact in the lives of the women who live there. I am going to be working with a company called Musana that is dedicated to helping the women of Uganda better their lives by providing work and an opportunity to learn some new skills. The wanderer in me couldn’t be more please with this opportunity to once again embark on a journey outside of the country. The story-teller in me couldn’t be more satisfied with the plethora of stories that I will undoubtedly have to tell about the people there, their experiences, and my life there as well. I am excited for all the ways that I know I will grow and for all the friendships that I will make. This experience is going to change my life forever. There are just three things that I am worried about.

imgres-2The first as you might guess is money. As a student it is not something that I have just lying around waiting for me to decide to take a trip to Africa. The university will give me a scholarship that will help but I am still going to need to come up with about $2000.

url-2The second thing that I am concerned about, and this might seem silly to most of you, but it’s not silly to me, it’s very VERY real and very VERY scary and well…it’s SPIDERS. icky, wiggly, hairy, leggy spiders. What if they crawl on me in my sleep? What if they… well I don’t know exactly what they could do but I know that just by being there crawling in their creepy little way its scary. And what is even more scary is that they might not be so very little. I picked the least scary, most harmless looking spider I could find because even seeing one on my blog is terrifying.

My last concern is without a doubt the most difficult and the only one that really gives me pause about going. And that is my dad. When I was little I remember my dad having breakfast with us when it was over he would roll up his bib cross the ties across the top put his hat on his head and say “that’s all folks” then he would do a little jib as he walked down the hallway through the kitchen and just before he turned the corner he would lift his hat to us and say see you later alligator!

The other day after dinner he finished eating and told my mom he was ready to go back to his room. slowly he turned his legs toward the side of the chair and my mom held on to his hands and pulled him to his feet. He stood there a little shaky trying to get his balance before he slowly shuffled from the room hanging on to her arm. As I watched him go I thought of my old “papadoplous” and his funny little jigs, and his playful attitude. I thought about him going off to work everyday to provide for us and I wondered if I can really go for three months not knowing if he will still be here when I get back. Saying goodbye is going to be difficult no matter what the circumstances but I don’t want to say goodbye when I leave for Africa and have him die while I am gone. I want to be here with him during his last days.

To be honest I don’t want him to go at all. A girl just shouldn’t have to lose her dad at my age. I’m not ready for that and I don’t think I will ever be ready for that. But…I also don’t think he would want me to continue to live my life in fear of him going. I don’t think he would want me to turn down opportunities. So I am going. I will pray that he will be ok. That I will come back and get to tell him all about my adventures there. He will probably even think that he went with me!149692_449132820657_467824_n