Thursday, December 10, 2009

This is The End

Well I am officially done with my semester at UCU. Today is my last day on campus. Yesterday I had my last class and started/turned in my last paper. (There really is nothing like procrastination to get you motivated.) It feels good to be done with school and to be able to REALLY enjoy my last five days here in Uganda.

Tonight we have our farewell dinner at our directors house. All the USP students, their host families, and the Ugandan Honors College students will be enjoying a meal together and listening to who knows how many speeches. Speeches are a HUGE part of Ugandan gatherings so it should be a fun night.

Tomorrow I will be spending my last day at home with Maama. My luggage will be picked up in the morning so I will be getting things organized and doing some last minute packing. I also told my neighborhood kids to come over so things could potentially get interesting but it should be a pretty relaxed day.

Saturday morning I will walk for the last time to campus; walking twenty minutes down Edward Zziwa Rise, Nkoyoyo Road, Goat Road, Abby Lane, past Princess Gardens, and finally up, the ever so despised, Cathedral Rise. Even though I have dreaded walking up Cathedral Rise every morning for the past three and a half months, reaching the top for the last time will not only leave me with a feeling of triumph but surprisingly also a feeling of slight sadness. Endings are always bittersweet.

This semester has been an amazing, challenging, learning, and stretching experience for me. I can’t really sum up the semester in words but pictures are worth a thousand words so here it goes…


What a terrible picture, really, let’s be honest, and yet I love it. It doesn’t really sum up the semester but it sums up my family (minus Dennis, Rebecca, and a few dozen others). I have really come to love this family; for their kindness, for their joy, for their deep commitment to God, and most of all for their faces. Look at those faces. What is not to love?

This is The End.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Girl Talk

My cousin Rebecca (Dennis’ sister) came to visit the past two weeks. It is the second time she has come to visit since I have been here and it seems that when she is here things get a whole lot more interesting. The other night we were watching some gospel music videos on the television and Sarah got up and started dancing. She is part of a worship ministry team at the Church and so she is pretty good. I started feeling the music and started doing a little of my own dancing in my chair. Maama LOVED it. She stands up, starts dancing, and tells me I better stand up and dance with them. They claimed that I had “real” rhythm… but waving your hands to the music is not really too difficult. Yes, waving your hands in the air is considered dancing. We even did a little side step to make it fancy. I threw in a couple of my own moves and let’s just say they were impressed. Rebecca decided a picture needed to be taken, and like her brother, she isn’t the best photographer you have ever met.


Mukama Yebazibwe! Praise God!

Rebecca is amazing. She brings a whole new dynamic to the house and I love it. She told me that she has been searching her whole life (30 years) for her long lost twin and said that when she met me she was so happy because she finally found her twin. We are the same height, wear the same size shoe, and even have the same size hands. The only difference is our age… oh yeah, and our color. She is such a beautiful person - inside and out. She always has a smile on her face, and she is ALWAY talking. Because she is so chatty though it takes her FOREVER to eat. It seems like Ugandans are generally slow eaters but we always joke around and tease her that she will just be finishing eating when we are waking up for breakfast.


My Ugandan Twin :)

While Maama was talking on the phone to our sister Jackie, who is currently in Nottingham studying, Rebecca, Sarah, and I had some quality girl talk. It was so much fun to sit with them and talk about their “friends.” Relationships aren’t really talked about openly in the Ugandan culture. There is no real public dating unless you are sure that it is the person you are going to marry so it was interesting hearing about their relationships with their “friends.” It was a great night with the girls, I really felt like a group of sisters as we whispered together and shared secrets.


Rebecca and Sarah – greasing up the hair

Rebecca left yesterday and I won’t see her again before I leave Uganda. It was my first official goodbye and I was not a fan. I am crossing my fingers that she will surprise me and come to our farewell party next week. I hinted to her that I would really love it if she came but I know she has work and other obligations at home.

I will be leaving my family in just one week and I can’t believe it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My IMME Family

IMME group

IMME (not ME) is the acronym we use here when we talk about the students in the Intercultural Ministry and Missions Emphasis in the USP program… aka the emphasis I am in, my people, my brother and sisters. For reals, I feel like this group of 19 students from the States and 1 from Canada have all become my family.

We spent the past weekend in the Rakai District in Southern Uganda. We stayed at the Kibaale Community Center, located near the boarder of Tanzania. We had the chance to tour the Center and talk to the missionaries that are working there about their life. They even made dinner for us! Salad, pasta, and chicken curry never tasted so good. Not sure how happy our stomachs were afterward but it was a delightful two meals.

Our breakfast and lunch weren’t too bad either. Actually they were amazing. We brought all our own supplies and made pancakes one morning, french toast another, and had peanut butter and jelly for lunch. It was again, delightful.

About 14 of us went on a hike up a hill that where we could (supposedly) see Tanzania from. We then made a pyramid… kind of. Then we played the human knot game. That was fun. Especially in the scorching heat since we were pretty much ON the equator. A dozen hot, sweaty, smelly, 20-somethings, holding hands and climbing all over each other is always a good time. Good thing we are comfortable with each other.


the pyramid

DSC_2653 the ladies who went on the hike

We also spent a lot of time relaxing. It was so nice to just BE together. We already are pretty much together all the time, squished into the IMME quarters, with computers in front of our faces and headphones in our ears. Being away from the quarters, our computers and our headphones allowed us to spend time talking, reading, playing games, and really enjoying each other. It was awesome to see the way that our relationships have grown so much over the past three months. As we sat around talking one night it hit me; we ONLY have three weeks left together.



lots of time was spent napping and talkling (talking and cuddling)


It was a different way to look at the last three weeks. Instead of being excited and thinking only three weeks until I go home I realized that in only three weeks and I will be saying goodbye. Not just to my host family, but my IMME family, and all of the friends I have made over the past semester. I doubt (unless Dean and Holly invite all of us to their wedding in a few years) that all 21 of us will ever all be together again once we all go our separate ways in just 21 days. It makes me sad but I know that each one of us has an amazing journey waiting for “life after Uganda”.

I know that these last three weeks are just going to fly. There are a lot of fun things happening in the next few weeks like a Thanksgiving Feast! Things are going to be busy. Hopefully I will get at least two more updates in by then. But for now… Happy Thanksgiving to all back home. I will be seeing you VERY soon.


more time spent bonding as we all crammed into the USP van for the six hour ride home!  

Friday, November 20, 2009

making chipati

I have been helping Ida out in the kitchen lately. Last week her and Dennis taught me how to make chipati, one of my favorite things they make here. It is basically like a flour tortilla, except better.


Ida rolling out the dough.

IMG_1724Dennis working his magic. 


Dennis teaching me how to make chipati. This was some good cousin bonding time for us. Lots of laughter.

They let me help at every step of the way. I helped cut, mix, roll, and fry. I even have pictures to prove it… courtesy of Dennis. For some reason I think this might have been Dennis’ first time using a camera. He tried.


Picture #1

Me making chipati!

Wait something is missing…




Picture #2

There is the chipati!

I think something is still missing though…




Picture #3


Me AND the chipati! (Proof that I actually did help.)



Oh what fun! I have LOVED spending time in the kitchen with Ida and Dennis lately. It is awkward and awesome at the same time. There is a lot of miscommunication and a lot of laughter.

I have also been doing other random housework the past couple weeks. A little preview:

10-17-09 006

laundry supplies: stool, soap, basin, jerry-can, dirty clothes

10-17-09 008

wash, rinse, repeat

10-17-09 043

Hanging my clothes out to dry. My family was a little surprised that we did this in the U.S. too but yet they didn’t understand why we couldn’t do it in winter. I explained that our clothes would freeze but they just can’t comprehend that sort of cold.

10-17-09 018

Awkwardly sweeping the yard. This must be done every time we cut the grass. It is really fun. NOT.

  10-17-09 017  Luckily Martin came and helped me. What a cutie.

That is all for now. We are headed out for our last weekend trip to Rakai. Should be a good weekend. Maybe I will have more to write and less pictures next week for you.

Lots of Love- Hanna

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cousin Dennis


Dennis is funny. He is one of those people. You know the ones who are very quiet and seems so serious all the time but whenever they says anything everyone laughs. That is Dennis. The only problem with this is that Dennis doesn’t speak much English so I never know what is so funny. Okay, well he probably understands more than I give him credit, but since he doesn’t talk often it is rare that he ever uses English. Sometimes they will translate what he has said so I can join in the laughter. I am usually laughing anyways already just because once you get Ida going there is no stopping her and her laugh is contagious.

So here is a Dennis story from last night…

Sarah was getting some tea to drink with her Dinner. We recently ran out of the tea we usually use and so she had to get out a tea bag. She was saying something in Luganda, complaining I am sure, and then Dennis pipes up from the dinning room, where he was sipping some tea of his own, and makes a comment. Immediately Sarah starts busting a gut. Once she regains composure she tells me what he has said. Supposedly while she was complaining about have to dig around for a tea bag Dennis said, “Why don’t you just use the tea bag I just used, it’s not like I put it in my mouth.” Okay, so it doesn’t sound as funny now as I write it, but it is just the whole expression and tone of voice when he was saying it. One of those, you-had-to-be-there moments I guess.

Most of my interactions with Dennis are in the morning on my way to the latrine when he greets me by saying, “yes Hanna, how are you?” Our other interaction is usually when he comes back from school in the evenings. I welcome him back with a Luganda phrase (not even going to try to spell it). He then replies again, “yes Hanna, shanks you (thank you).” I am not sure why but he ALWAYS starts with, “yes Hanna.” It is like he is acknowledging my existence or something. I love it. I also love that he says shanks you instead of thank you. That about sums up our relationship. Oh, cousin Dennis.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rural Home Stay

I left my rural home stay one week ago today. It was … an experience. I am glad that we had the opportunity to get a little glimpse of what life is like in another part of Uganda but I am glad to be back in Mukono.

We stayed in Karchorwa for one week. Friday to Friday. Kapchorwa is located in along the far Eastern Uganda border close to Kenya and is in the same mountain region as Mt. Elgon. It was absolutely beautiful and pictures just can not do justice to the beauty of God’s creation in this region.

10-31-09 030

Abigail's Pictures 292

views from our front gate of Mt. Tebesad

My friend Abigail and I stayed together with a woman named Maama Dorothy (aka superwoman) and her four daughters who were between the ages of five and ten. Maama’s husband works as a policeman in western Uganda, a two days journey away from Kapchorwa, so she is left to manage the house, the animals, and all the land alone. (Please note that I have never had a Ugandan “Father”- seriously what is this??) Maama also has five older children, all boys, who were either away at school or working.

Abigail's Pictures 296me and the family

Maama was always busy doing something. The woman worked hard from sunrise to long after sunset. She was amazing. Unfortunately because Maama was always so busy we didn’t have much interaction with her the first two days. She was always running everywhere taking the cows to the pasture, the goats to graze, milking the cows, cutting down a matooke tree, bringing it back on her head, cutting up the tree to feed the cows, washing dishes, making tea, making lunch, collecting water to water the cows, milking the cows again, collecting eggs from the hens, bringing the cows home, bringing the goats home, washing dishes, making tea, making dinner, the list goes on and on. The woman never sat down once to just rest. The ONLY time I saw her sitting was when she was making a meal and when we went to church.

10-31-09 218 Abigail's Pictures 275  feeding the cows and taking out the goats

Abigail's Pictures 237 10-31-09 272 milking the cows and washing the dishes

Abigail's Pictures 26210-31-09 252 carrying matooke trees on head and fetching water

So while Maama was busy doing who knows what Abigail and just took it all in the first two days. We weren’t really sure what we were supposed to be doing so we spent some time playing what we thought was monkey in the middle with our sisters. For some reason it seemed like the girls were throwing the ball right at us for us to catch it, too easy. Then they demonstrated it for us and we realized they weren’t throwing it at us so we could catch it, they were trying to hit us. The point of the game (I think) was to see how many times you could dodge the ball. We still aren’t really sure though. I think they just liked hitting the mzungu’s with the ball because they kept making us go in the middle while they would take turns throwing the ball back and forth. Also the ball wasn’t what you would think of as a ball. It was circular, yes. But it was made out of plastic who-knows-whats, tightly wound and tied together. Abigail also played some kind of freeze tag with the kids while I watched and laughed at her.

As the days went by we started to help Maama with some of her work. We started with doing the dishes. Easy enough right? Not so much when you have to stand doubled over with your butt up in the air. Not the most comfortable position.

10-31-09 269

Our next task was to help Maama water the cows. It also wasn’t the easiest task because of the steep incline from the stream where we fetched the water to the pasture. We filled up jerry cans and had to carry them all the way up the hill. Quite the workout, especially when your not used to that kind of work and your name is Hanna.

10-31-09 240 10-31-09 25310-31-09 248 

One day we helped Maama go cut down a matooke tree to feed the cows. She cut it into three sections so that way we could all carry a piece of it on our heads. Maama then cut down another one and carried two on her head. So impressive.

10-31-09 199Abigail's Pictures 225 10-31-09 207 10-31-09 216

We also helped Maama take the goats out to graze. We had to journey down the side of the mountain and trample through a maize field to get to where she tied them up. It helped me get over my fear of goats. These were the main chores that we helped out with then the rest of the week unless it was raining.

Abigail's Pictures 244I think this is hiking back from taking the goats, as you can tell, I am booking it trying to keep up with Maama

It rained everyday we were there. It usually started sometime after lunch and  Maama would tell us to stay inside and take a sleep. She always insisted that we were tired. We didn’t fight her though because when it rained the temperature would plummet. It was freezing, and I of course forgot to pack a sweatshirt. Luckily Abigail brought a sweatshirt and a rain jacket. So I wore the rain jacket all week, which wasn't very warm but definitely better than nothing. Abigail and I actually spent quite a bit of time in our room. It was good for bonding but we got bored pretty easily.

There is so much more that I could write but honestly I just don’t feel like writing anymore. Overall, it was a good week. I gained a lot of respect for the people, especially the women, who live in rural Uganda. It is part of my experience that has definitely made a lasting impression on me.

Being away from the comforts of Mukono for a week was a challenge for me. It was hard to go day to day without a routine and not knowing what to expect. I found myself missing my family, my bed, my basin, and even my latrine in Mukono. It was weird to realize how comfortable I had become with my life in Mukono. I left my comfort zone in the U.S. and had already been able to create a new one here. weird weird weird. That kind of made me think of home home and the comforts in the U.S. and I experienced my first real feelings of homesickness. I am good though. It is now less that six weeks until I return home. Our schedule looks pretty busy for the remainder of the semester and I just know that these last weeks are going to be over before I know it. I am trying to take each day as it comes and continue to make the most of my experience.

Abigail's Pictures 206 walking home from church with friends

Sorry it took so long to get a post up. Hope you all had a wonderful week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leaving for Kapchorwa

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for my rural home stay in Kapchorwa. I will be staying with a family for one week and then we will have debrief as a group for three days at Sipi Falls. I will be out of contact for ten full days. (ah!) It is supposed to be a absolutely beautiful in Kapchorwa and it should be a really great experience. Right now I feeling both excited and nervous. It is going to be challenging trying to start to fall into a new schedule and living with a new family. It will be a good break from classes for a while but I am already a little stressed about the amount of work that will be waiting for me when I return to UCU. Please keep me in your prayers over the next week.


10-14-09 034

Above: This is what I refer to as “goat road” – I take it everyday on my walk to and from school. As you can see it can be quite the obstacle course. I am not a big fan of the black goat with the horns. It took me probably about five minutes to work up the courage to walk past him instead of turning around and taking the long way to school, which would have added another 10-15 minutes. If you cant tell there is a rope tied to him that is staked into the group on the left side of the road. To the right is some large shrubbery. I am not really sure what kind of damage can be done by a goat like Mr. Big Horned Blacky but there was really no good way to get around him so I just ran to his left, over the rope, praying that he wouldn’t freak out and horn me. I am sure if anyone would have been there to witness the mzungu running scared past the goats they would have dies laughing. I had to laugh to myself just thinking how ridiculous I must have looked.

ALSO. Just a little FYI. This week marked our half way point! It is crazy that we are already half way through the semester. It has been a great experience so far and I can hardly imagine the things that are in store for the next eight weeks. I am looking forward to returning home just in time for the Christmas holiday!

Hope you are all having a great week. Keep the emails and comments coming.