Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Hodgepodge of Information

June 19

-‘This American Life’ keeps me company at night…as do sleeping pills.
-Les Miserables keeps me grounded.
-I go to bed around 9 and get up a little after 7…all without an alarm.
-I eat breakfast every morning.
-The ministry here is not especially focused—in a good way. A variety of issues have been identified and they are all being poured into.
-I love my housemates: Stephanie (from Germany) with here 2 adopted children: Allibeena & Julias, Stephanie & Lisa (from Grand Rapids, Michigan), & Sarah (also from Michigan).
-The Sliedrechts are splendid. Tim (Canada) & Angie (Michigan…pattern much?) have adopted 3 children: Aveleen (Detroit), Moses (here), and most recently…Zulea. More to come on the adoption/foster process here.
-It never really gets below 80 degrees here—but I am getting used to it.
-Pedestrians NEVER have the right of way.
-Ugandans don’t really have roads.
-We have electricity here for the first time since I arrived.
-I have gotten quite good at lighting matches…to light our stove/oven.
-Riding bike here is terrifying...especially because you have to wear a skirt all the time.
-Ugandans can carry everything/anything on their mini motorcycles/bikes.
-People here are so fun and laugh at many things.
-When we walk places children begin to follow us and say, “how are you mzungu” (in a rhyming way)…and then run away and laugh if we try to talk to them.
-There is much poverty here…kind of. Because people have lived like this for their whole life it is all they know; it’s complicated.
-It gets dark around 7 pm every night (connect this with going to bed early + no power)
-They have coffee here. I drink it often.
-At a trauma conference a man tried to marry me off to his son because I am THAT attractive…or because I am a mzungu.

Second Favorite Second Cousin

June 18

I love the song of a piano. To me there is such beauty in the simplicity…or complexity, of the music. As I sit here and listen all is right with the world. I think that no matter what I am feeling, listening to this music would somehow calm me.
The piano is magnificence waiting to be played; it is splendor through keys. The melodies that are produced take patience, hard work, and most importantly, loyalty and ardor.
How is it that one individual may be brought so much joy by a singe instrument. It is in this question that I have found true wonder. You see, it is not the piano that brings joy…it is the player; I’m sure at least some of you have had an unpleasant experience with a still developing pianist.
It blows my mind that a person who has a gift and spends time developing said gift can impact me without even knowing me. I have been provided with a peace that is apart from human contact—at least in the physical sense.
Develop your gifts…you may never know how much impact you may have on another individual.
Life is often like that—so many opportunities for exquisiteness just awaiting investment. Amazing. Something happens inside of me when I listen to it…indescribable. Perhaps some of you know what I mean. How is it that one individual may be brought so much joy by a singe instrument. Not just an instrument alone—a person must be using it. In theory then, are we all equipped with a gift? Something that we have passion for and have dedicated our lives to Strengthening?

The Mzungu Crosses the What? The Lake.

June 16

Today I had the privilege of spending my Wednesday with Becky (long-term with ITeams) and Benna (World Vision). Benna (Bernadette) has an amazing vision to enhance and develop the identity of the children of Uganda. Becky and I went with her to a primary school, about a half hour from Soroti. We spent hours (about 3) there watching Benna talk to a group of 20 children aged from 11-15 about early marriage, abstaining from sex (teachers often pressure students to sleep with them for passing grades, etc.), taking a stand for themselves, gender equality, respect, and assertiveness.
After we ate lunch (with our hands) at 3, we went to check out the lake that was ‘nearby’ (close is a subjective term in Uganda). What we expected to be a look-and-go situation turned into a, drive into the bush-wade in the water-get in a boat-paddle across the lake, type of hour. It was so, so fun.
The below video will give you a good taste of what the journey entailed.
[Excuse me, this is where the video would have gone if the internet was strong enough to post]
Today was more than just an informative and fun day…it was a day of the emergence of a bright and positive attitude.
These last few days have been difficult; I have struggled to find my place. I entered an already established team and have been trying to enter both into the culture and the team. I was feeling like it was taking me way too long to adjust to where I was. Because of this tortoise like pace, I began to lose sight of my purpose and whom I should be depending on. Last night I pulled out my prayer journal for the first time. It was so good…just what I needed (thank you SO much to all those who contributed). For those who don’t know what a prayer journal is, I will briefly explain. Basically, someone close to and SOS-er is asked to put together a book of encouraging notes from friends. My youngest sister, Hannah, wrote to me about our time in Mexico—and about past regrets. This, along with an allotment of other wisdom, was perfection
Needless to say, I was built up in an incredible way not only by the encouragement that was found in the pages, but also by the truth that was spoken to me; truth that I knew, but I still needed to be reminded of.
Today was such a good day…I not only crossed the lake of Uganda, I crossed a lake of knowledge…or something (clever, eh…not only literal, but metaphorical).
p.s. Mizungu means white person in Ateso.

Monday, June 7, 2010

To Answer a Couple of Questions...

 A few weeks ago I was asked, “what is your favorite place in the world.” I chose Lake Hendricks. Here are a couple reasons why:

1) These 3 crazies (Banana, Rachel, & Coffee)

2) My family (as represented by my mother...yes Bullers, you are included in the family label).
Apart from the obvious draws of LH, this summer I will also miss...
-Hendricks Summerfest...for those of you who don't know what this is, just know it involves the 'World's Strongest Farmer', 'Hendricks Idol', 'Chicken Bingo'...and other such activities.
-Roadtrips & reunions
-Reading in parks and coffee shops
-Long bike rides
-Exploring in the kitchen
There are obviously more, but I don't want to exhaust my cognitive capacities before I leave...for Africa. Which brings me to what most of you have been waiting for: an Africa update.
Well, in approximately 21 hours I will be on a plane to Minneapolis...then on to Amsterdam (aka the motherland), which will lead me to Entebbe, Uganda. I will be picked up by the Sliedrechts and taken to Soroti where I will...well. I really don't know. I do know I will be staying with some people at some point and we will be responsible for our own meals. I am quite fine with being 'out of the loop,' as long as everyone else is ok with it.
So I will leave you with that. It's 6:00 pm on Monday night, and I am going to go to a movie, come home to clean my room, finish up some other stuff, and then start packing (in that order).
Next time you hear from me it will be from across the ocean. Then we will both have a better idea of what my summer entails.
Until then, God bless and thanks for the support and prayers!

6 Cavities Later

I hate dentist appointments. As I have teeth genetically predispositioned to fail, you can only imagine how I felt when my mother told me she made an appointment for me. Not only did I have to go to a dentist appointment, but I also had to do it the day before I left for Africa.
Additionally, today I have to decide which assistantship to take. For those of you especially close to me, you know how difficult this has been. With phone conversations starting with, “I am going to now take advantage of our friendship,” followed by, “try to be as subjective as possible,” I have exhausted my resources. Even after all that help I am still here, with 19 minutes before it is no longer Monday morning in California, not knowing which job to take.
Here’s the problem. I think I know which job I really want. But it’s not the one that would lead into a natural succession of RD opportunities. It’s not the one that I would be confident stepping into. No…the job I think I really want is the one that would be hard for me to adjust to. I would often have to be someone I am normally not—I would be forced to be brave (insert dramatic music).
So what do I do? After forcing my friends to tell me which job I should choose, I still have little direction. Four of the five pointed me towards the one I’d be more relaxed with, telling me things like…”you have so much experience with this”, “this job would be so helpful to you as an RD…the experience will carry over”. 
I still don’t know. With 13 minutes to decide I am feeling a bit helpless. Why? Because I think that there is a right answer and I must find it. In all reality though, why don’t I just flip a coin…if I really don’t care. Ahh. But I do care—obviously this wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t think it was such a big deal. So why can’t I figure out what I should do? If I have an opinion, shouldn’t I be entitled to knowing what that is? Apparently that’s not how things work.
10 minutes. So do I choose the job that I would be naturally good at? Or do I pick the one that’s a little more chancy?
I decided to pick option number easy. Of course that's not to say it will be an easy-breezy, beautiful, covergirl, year...but I think I won't have to adjust my natural way of communicating as much as I would have if option B would have been chosen.
Cop-out? Perhaps. But I am confident that learning will take place- just in a different form than the other option would have offered. Besides, doesn't the popular vote always win?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lost: A Substantial Amount of Hearing

Tonight my family went to my cousin Tori's 13th birthday party at Dars Pizza. While there another cousin, Zac, decided that he wanted to stay overnight at our house. Let me tell you some things about Zac: he's a "I'll be 12 in November", bangs over the eyes, too cool for school, crooked hat/under armor wearing boy who shares his ipod (with the volume up WAY too loud) with me to watch Avatar on the way home...and I love most everything about him. Tonight while Hannah and I were talking in my room he came in with a gift in the form of a ductape bilfold for Banana. After insisting that he was not at all tired, he decided to watch Sherlock Holmes with us...and promptly fell asleep. We couldn't resist capturing this precous moment on camera:)

As my date of departure draws closer, I am trying to take in every opportunity I have to spend time with those proximally close to me. Because my senses have been heightened, I have more deeply noticed the beauty that has been a consistent presence in my life. It's like...Avatar. I guess I would be Jake in this situation. Though it takes him awhile, he eventually opens himself up to learning and through that is able to see the majesty of Pandora.
So am I sad to be leaving this place for the summer? Of course. But I know that a sort of pizzazz can be found everywhere and within every person-- even in 11 year old boys.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Should Explain...

...My title.
As at least some of you may know, I am a significant (p<.05) fan of Regina Spektor. "A Silver Bullet Trailer" comes from her song, "Folding Chair", and though I do thoroughly enjoy her little tune, there is more importance in my title than it being reminiscent of personal aspirations.
This spring I graduated from Northwestern...forever. I'm not confident that everyone adored college as much as I did, but perhaps a handful of you may identify with the feeling of loss that comes with leaving such a place of growth and love. But what better way to remove oneself from said devastation than to embark on a service trip to Africa for the summer?
I have to admit, I am feeling quite overwhelmed right now—more than I would ever admit to anyone in person. But I know that as I make the transitions from Iowa to Africa and then to California in the fall, I will be fine. Everything will be ok...and though at times I am less than thrilled and extremely unmotivated, I look forward to much learning and new discovery as I load up my trusty (and might I add quite stylish) silver bullet trailer and take in all that is around me.