Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Pictures!

Most of my posts recently have been all text, and look very boring, so I thought it was time to spend some pictures with you all. I can't put up many as bandwidth is slow, so here's a choice selection from my last 2 weeks.

While in Kampala I went to relax at Munyonyo Resort, built when the queen came to Uganda about 20 years ago and still very fancy. They are one of the only places in Uganda to have horses, and my favourite was Iron Bru - he's really Scottish, and his nose is orange from drinking too much Iron Bru. Only kidding.

We (Well, Brendan) were invited to a St Patrick's Day party at the Irish Embassy residence, and as we were in town we went along. It was far fancier than any party I'd been to before, except as a waitress! There were canap├ęs, fairy lights, speeches and Guinness all the way from Ireland. 

It must look like all I do is go on holiday, but it's not true! Though I have been travelling to lots of exciting  places recently. This weekend we did a quick jaunt up to Queen Elizabeth with some friends who are volunteers at St Francis, my counselling school. It's only 1.5 hrs away, and you can stay in a lovely resort called Kingfisher. I had to leave on Sunday evening to get back for school, and happily for them but sadly for me, everyone else saw leopards and lions on Monday..


Meet Iron Bru, one of the horses at Monyonyo resort. What a great name!

The embassy party even had a traditional band from a town near Brendan's home town.




We got all dressed up - Brendan even wore a tie.

The ugliest animals in Queen Elizabeth

I wanted to take a baby elephant home with me in my pocket..

Just a quick update - the internet is working for once but it's 7.20 in the morning and I need to leave for school soon.

Tooth is out! I made the decision to take it out and trust God that I'll be able to get the implant. It would have had to happen eventually, whether in one year or ten, so I prefer to decide for myself when to get dental treatment and not just repair it and wait for it to break again. It was also nice to spend some time in Kampala, though that place can get so hectic and mad, and overwhelmingly hot.

Monday was my first day back at counselling school, and I'll be there for a week. Being back studying it reminds me all the more why I wanted to in the first place - we can be hours late for lunch but no-one in class notices as we're all too excited about the subject matter. The teachers are inspiring, and it's exciting to be in a culture that recognises the importance of the spiritual side of ourselves, whatever our belief system.

The GETS girls have been left with a project to study a book and do a presentation on it next week. They requested the opportunity to learn public speaking skills, and even requested to do the presentations in front of more than just me and Mabel!

We also did personality tests last week, and I wanted to share some of the results with you as it's an interesting but quick look at the effects of culture vs genetics/personal preferences. If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs types, you'll understand what I'm talking about, but I'll try and keep it simple for all of us. The test gives your four letters or preferences, and you have two options for each letter (E or I, S or N, F or T, J or P). The last preference, J or P, deals with whether people are more interested in details or the big picture of an idea. J's tend to be organised, punctual and detail orientated, whereas P's tend to be messy, spontaneous and generally late. All of my girls have J preferences, yet they are as liberal with time as any other Ugandan, and are more likely to be late than on time. It just shows the power of culture that we can behave in a way that our personality type would say should generally be the opposite - here being there for people and making sure you do get there, but not specifically to the minute of the expected time, is more important than being dead on time.

I didn't give this post a title as it doesn't seem to have a general theme, except maybe 'my week', which seems a little bit too primary school for my taste! If you have any ideas for a witty and intriguing title that will get thousands of people reading my blog, let me know!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

An unexpected trip, and fun at the dentist

So things have taken an unexpected turn here for me! This past week was supposed to be about settling in and really getting down to business with teaching the girls and lesson planning for the year ahead. The theme for this week is 'Getting to know ourselves and each other' and has involved focussing on Psalm 139, listening skills and following a programme allowing us to get to know our 'SHAPE'. We got to day 2 (which also included baking sugar biscuits - the first time any of them had baked, and Ozan now has plans to start a baking business, she loved it so much) and I went out for dinner with a few friends in the evening and..

My tooth broke.

I had a root filling in there, and turns out it was pretty weak. I now have almost nothing left of my tooth, and the dentist in Mbarara told me the only way I could get it seen to was to go to Mengo Hospital in Kampala, a 5 hour bus journey! Luckily, Brendan was going up himself to pick up his brother who's come to visit, so I wasn't alone for the journey and have had some company here in Kla.

Right now I'm in Kampala, and I don't know how long I'll be here for. I've seen the dentist at Mengo (hewas very reassuring - it's lovely to have Footsteps on the wall when you're nervous!) who is unsure whether he can save the tooth with another root filling or I should just take it out and have an implant. I have another appointment on Tuesday morning (will have been in Kampala a week by then!) and by then I need to decide what to do. An implant seems the best choice, but it's mightily expensive! A filling could last 1-10 years, but it's a gamble. Though dental treatment is far cheaper here than in the UK, an implant is still almost £900- that's the cost of a trip home, and a large dent in savings. Another filling and crown would be £200, a lot of which would be covered by insurance. Hard to know what to do!

So some prayers would be appreciated, and any opinions as well! I need to decide by Tuesday morning what I'll be doing. Thankfully, it doesn't really hurt very much, and I have a wonderful community of friends praying for me and calling regularly from Mbarara to see how I am. But it's very unfair on the girls to have them miss a week of teaching this early in the course, so I really need to be back with them soon.

On the plus side, being in Kampala gives me the unexpected opportunity to see some good Navigator friends here - you know who you are, and I can't wait to see your faces again after so long.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Networked Blogs

I have a new way of following my blog - if you're on Facebook, you can add the application Networked Blogs and have my posts come up on your news feed whenever I add a new one. You can do this even if you're not 'friends' with me - find me here on Networked Blogs or take a look at my new sidebar and click 'follow'.

Dusty and dry and very short showers

Well, the rainy season is late so real life in Uganda has hit me hard! Lack of water means we don't have enough water pressure to fill our tank, so we had no water in the house. Just last night we filled the tank a little bit with jerry cans, but we're now on severe water conservation - for those of you in the UK, think extreme hosepipe ban! Have to duck in and out of the shower only when necessary, and no more night foot washing which means bedsheets get VERY dirty.
Everything is v dry and hot, and the sun is constantly belting down (except at Lake Nabugabo, but I'll explain in a bit). I know I was saying a lot before I left that I couldn't wait to be in the tropical paradise that is Uganda, but the reality is that the weather makes life pretty hard for many people here. Planting has already happened, but no rain yet means harvests will be late and food expensive. Roads are dry and dusty and get all gets right at the back of your throat and into your eyes - someone recently recommended that I wear sunglasses all the time, even at night, to avoid the dust. It's dry!
The only place it's not sunny, apparently, is Lake Nabugabo, where a couple of friends and bussed down to for couple of days of holiday. It's about two hours east of Mbarara and is easy to get to by (hot and crowded) bus. We put the tent up in what felt like a gale, then spent most of Sunday getting burnt but not feeling it as the wind was so cold! The sun was hidden away but sent just enough rays through to turn all the mzungus in the group beetroot red. At least I'll tan..
So it's very dry holiday weather everywhere that isn't a holiday resort, but the real-life consequences are uncomfortable and making life more and more difficult for ordinary Ugandans.
Please pray for rains soon!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Launch of the Class of 2012

Welcome to the class of 2012!

On Saturday we had a launch lunch to welcome the new girls and new teachers, and had a graduate from 2011 along as well. 

From left to right we have: Back row - Rosette (you can hardly see her!), me, Osanne (I think that's how you spell her name - sounds like Rosanne without the 'R'), Anthea our new drama and craft teacher, Fiona, Martha our computer teacher
Front row - Stephen our farming teacher, Judith, Annet (from the class of 2011) and Mabel Twinamasiko, the founder and lady in charge of CCFM and GETS


Class of 2012 and Mabel - Rosette, Osanne, Mabel, Fiona and Judith

I just love this picture. Taken when they weren't expecting it - Mabel and Anthea having a cheesy moment!

Rosette, Osanne, Me, Fiona and Judith

Classes start today (Monday). Soon I'll give you an idea of a typical day for me and the girls.

Message that greeted me on me return to Mbarara..

From my partner and leader at CCFM, Mabel Twinamasiko:
Isa 52:7 How wonderful it is to see a messenger coming across the mountains, bringing good news, the news of peace! He announces victory and says to Zion, "Your God is king!"

Dear Wonder Girl,

Have a blessed journey. God bless your parents, may they say with us the same words of Isa 52;7 when you return to them, when the work is done. Amen