Rural Homestays just happened this past week. We went to Soroti, Uganda. About an 8-hour drive and quite close to the border of Kenya. The first night was spent in a guest house, but then Saturday morning through the following Friday morning were spent living with a family. The weekend was spent at a small resort in Sipi Falls, Kapichura. Nothing overly inspirational occurred, but for those of you who have time to sit and read, here’s my story:
Yesterday was travel day and today is day #1.
We just had breakfast and are about to begin our drop offs in due time. I’m not really nervous like butterflies in my stomach, but I am kind of concerned about my sleeping situation because I didn’t sleep well at all last night.
We stayed in a guesthouse, but Becca,
Morgan, Shanae and I stayed in a tent. I slept horribly. But before we went to bed was great. Paul, Becca, and I went stargazing, star-tipping, threw roasted maize at each other and talked until 11:30pm. This was all after the bonfire. We had way too much fun, but sleeping? ugh. Morgan, Becca, and I got up in the middle of the night to pop a squat in the grass…barefoot. That was an experience. We were being adventurous. Anyway, I know I am going to have a partner at homestays, but I’m still feeling as if I’m going to do everything alone. It’s weird.
Today was the second day at our rural homestay. It was a very long and interesting night that didn’t consists of much sleep. We were told the night before that we would be leaving for church the next morning at 8:30. We awoke at 7:30 and proceeded to sweep the guest house we stay in as well as the compound. We then had tea and breakfast, but didn’t actually leave for church with Toto (what we call Mama in their language, Ateeso) until 10 am. It was a very long 45 minute walk, but even though the service was starting at 9, it had barely begun by the time we got there. We, of course, were seated in two chairs on the side of the front stage with one of the reverends as an interpreter. That was the first thing that got on my nerves. The reverend also was all up in
my face as he was interpreting. I was very warm already, he had bad breath and I had to withold my facial expressions because all could see. It sure went for a long time too. When we sung, they sung in Atesso, the native language here in Soroti. The reverend made sure that Becca and I could see the song book, but I had not the energy to attempt the words and sing along. After church, Toto instructed us to wait for her. Crowds of children fathered aroudn the two chairs Becca and I were instructed to sit in… simply so they could stare at us. One Mama even sent the reverend to give us her baby to hold. I suppose they felt that was a privilege for the child, so he placed the baby in my lap. I am surprised he didn’t cry as many young babies have never seen a Mzungu before and often think we are a ghost. Once Toto was ready, we walked into town and stopped for a soda. It was Becca and I, Toto, and all of Betty’s kids (Betty is one of Toto’s daughters…she has 11 kids, 8 still alive). A gentleman in there knew English and asked Becca and I a few questions…our ages and if we were married in particular. He informed us that he was 22 and single and added that he was aging so quickly, but Becca and I refused to take ahint. The walk home was certainly long and so we carried Faith (Betty’s 4 year old daughter) a good part of the way on my back. Once we arrived home, there were visitors in the guest house, but I just had to rest, so I greeted them then went to lie down in our room. That is essentially rude, but I was exhausted and so exasperated from church service. I must have had an off and on power nap for an hour. Finally, I awoke at 4:30 for tea with the visitors who were still there. Later, Becca and I went out to help sort rice and then ended up making chapatis, which was just awesome. Right before dark, Becca and I bathed and then we returned to work. Papa, who had been away at a wedding in Kampala, returned around 8:30 and we finally had dinner at 9:30. Before that though, during some down time, Becca and I played with the kids. Little faith fell asleep on my chest and started snoring…all while I was singing quiet songs and rocking her. After dinner, which consisted of millet bread, rice, cabbage, mushroom sauce, meat, chapatis, and rolexes, we awaited the rest of the family to come for prayer in the guest house. By the time we prayed and singing was over, it was 11:30pm and I immediately knocked out in bed after teeth and latrine. What a long day.
This morning we arose at 6:45am. I definitely konked out last night was sleeping so soundly when Lydia woke us up. We first went to the garden and hoed the ground, picked some greens, and uprooted some cassava. Some fields were very tall and going through them was like making your way through a thicket. Then we came back and began the low-key activities such as peeling cassava, shelling
ground nuts, stemming the green leaves, etc. And we also did something else I never would have guessed I would do: spread cow dung all over the ground with our hands! Toto told us it made for a good area to place the cassava on to dry in the sun. Who would have thought. We took tea/breakfast around 10:30 and lunch at 3. I just arose from a nap. I’ve been under the weather and getting less than 7 hours sleep. I’m appreciative that Toto is able to see that we need rest. I’m not too concerned with them thinking mzungus cannot be worked hard right now. Well, the rest of the day, after our long nap, consisted of saying goodbye to Betty and Faith who left on a boda boda. After that, we bathed and then helped make “cookies”. We actually thought they were going to be cookies, but it turned out they were just those tiny donut-hole-like deep fried yummies. So, I did two things today that I had never done before: deep fry food and handle cow dung. Oh and did I mention that we always eat with our hands? Haha. Three days down, though. I’m enjoying, but I also wish we were going straight back to Mukono on Friday instead of Sunday. I miss everyone there.
Today was not at all smooth. I came to the climax of my cold and was in much need of rest at one point. Quite miserable. The day was
very dull as all the kids had left. Becca and I did a lot of sitting around. My family got a bit overconcerned about my health and kept wanting to call Margaret about it. I don’t think they understand the concept of having just a cold. I need to rest, but I am not going to die. Finally around bathing time, I felt a bit better, but I took some Niquil around 6 and was knocking out between each food interaction from 6 o’clock until bed time. The adventure part of that day was that I got to try and milk a cow. It is SO much more difficult than it looks. I simply couldn’t manage to grab the cow’s utter as hard as one apparently needs to in order to get the milk out. Other than that, painful day and I passed out in bed immediately.
Today wasn’t all that bad. i felt much better in regards to my cold. We started our day off with loads of dishes to wash and then proceeded to juice several passion fruits in order to make juice. There was much sitting around after
that, but at least it gave me a chance to read and write a letter to Janie. Later before lunch at 4, I went on a short walk and discovered an awesome Mango tree to climb. We took lunch and shortly after proceeded to beat millet on the ground with sticks. We must have been a site because Toto, Lydia, and even the seemingly shy young man who had been around Onesimus were laughing hysterically at us. Later, Joseph (the help boy), Becca and I went to climb the mango tree some more and then after bathing, we hit some oranges with a stick…baseball style. Onesimus played too. He and Joseph preferred a shoe instead of a stick. After that, Joseph, Becca and I did a lot of dancing, much to Onesimus’ entertainment. We danced under the moonlight. He laughed a lot. I don’t think he can speak any English. He doesn’t answer Becca or I when we ask him anything. It’s really too bad. He seems like a nice guy. It’s weird for a young adult not to know hardly any English as most have been through school and learn it there. So I was telling Becca that since I have been here, I have been reflecting more on the multiple things the Lord has taught me in life and less on new abstract things I could only learn in Africa. it’s just not like that. The Lord has brought me so far and sometimes I don’t understand why He chose me. I am so imperfect and often feel quite unusable, but that just doesn’t stop God. Never.
Well, I have written almost seven pages about rural homestay so far, but it has been wroth it as much has occurred since I’ve been here. Today is Becca’s and my last day here. I’m kind of glad. I have definitely had my fun moments, but I’m ready to be back with
everyone else and then home with my Mukono family. Joseph and I had a dance party this morning after Becca and I swept the compound and did dishes. One thing I really love about being here is the ability to just dance whenever and not have to worry about what others think. Chances are they’ll actually join in with you. It’s wonderful and I can truly dance my heart out. Onesimus came shortly after that and we played some more orange baseball. He was highly enjoying that and definitely hanging around Becca and I more. I think we made a frie3nd. Laundry came after that, then lunch and then we went to our neighbor’s house who insisted upon having us over. So we walked there with Beatrice, her 9 month year-old Brian, Joseph and Onesimus. Onesimus knows very few English wrods, but somehow that barrier began to be broken by laughter. He whistled, I whistled too and he thought that was funny. I picked flowers and placed them in Becca’s braid, so he picked one and put it in my hair as well. The time at our neighbor’s was pretty boring as they showed us old pics of their family and then spoke a lot to each other in Ateeso. But as a gift, they gave us a live chicken to take
home!…to eat, of course..that very night. Shoot! I thought we had made it through rural homestay without having to slaughter a chicken. Joseph carried it home for us. We stopped by the well since Onesimus had the bike and Jerry cans. I opted to try and ride the bike back down the bumpy path. Onesimus pushed me from behind and everyone who saw just thought I was a sight! That was truly a funky bike, though. We came back to our compound and there were at least 5 extra kids sitting around. So while Becca bathed, I started some orange baseball with them, which they LOVED. Before that, though, was the butchering of the chicken. Onesimus had the poor bird and the knife which we use for everything…spreading butter, peeling oranges and apparently cutting chicken’s necks. I was thinking more of a machete and one large CHOP! But Onesimus sawed its neck open while the guts spills out. So gross. Pictures were priceless and everyone wanted to see them. After Orange baseball, I bathed and returned to the party where no cooking was going on yet, but we were destined to make chapaties. Becca had the baby in her arms, so I took some pictures, which turns into a party of looking at all my pictures on my camera. Mr. tall Onesimus came up right behind me and was looking over my shoulders while Becca was crowed in front. We later proceeded to make sim sim balls and chapatis. Dance party was before that with Papa, Toto, Joseph, Onesimus, Becca and myself. We can ALL dance up a storm, tell you what. We made chapatis after that. I rolled out and Becca fried. We were boss. Onesimus made weird voices with me, behaving like little kids and I made a shadow puppet that was pretending to eat the cooking chapati, which just cracked Joseph up. After chapatis, even more dancing until we sat down to dinner. All this fun occurring under the bright moon. It was a great day.
The next morning was departure. A mixed emotion. What an awesome trip!