Monday, July 30, 2007

leslie's journal from Uganda-July 26

I’m in Africa! This is actually my second day here – I slept most of my first day!

Thursday, July 28

We arrived in Entebbe at 7:40. As we stepped off the plane I couldn’t stop smiling – I’m in Africa! The air was thick, but there was a slight breeze so it wasn’t too warm. Off to the left was Lake Victoria. Straight ahead and to the right was land and trees in the distance – so big and open. Behind us was the airport, under construction (as are many things in this country!)

We waited in line to get our visas – nothing like the hustle and bustle of the Seattle and London airports. Security was pretty much nonexistent. We grabbed our luggage (it was all there – yeah!) and headed toward the airport building. Courtney was the first to spot Hillary, and then it was my turn to hug her. “Hi, Mama.” I missed that sweet voice and sincere smile! Then it was on to more hugging . First Hopkins, then Dethan, Sam S., and Sam L. Lots of smiles – so glad to finally meet these great people Hillary has told us so much about.

Our luggage is stuffed into the back as we pile into the van – all eight of us – and there is room to spare! As we drive from Entebbe to Kampala I do my best to take in all the sights and sounds (and smells). There are many people walking on the sides of the road, riding bikes, driving boda bodas. I can’t get over the fire red dirt (even though Hillary told me about it) – it is everywhere! There are people working in the fields of red dirt digging, hoeing – I’m not sure why. There are even people sweeping the red dirt!

Our van zooms around, weaving in and out of cars, driving on the left side of the road – this will take a while to get used to. I see the land filled with palm trees and banana trees (I think) - it is beautiful. I am in Africa, I keep telling myself! Then, as we drive through a more populated area, I see shops with wares from sides of beef (I think it’s beef) hanging outside, to furniture (all the chairs are exactly the same).

The closer we get to the city, the more poverty I see. None of the side roads are paved - just lots and lots of red dirt. Many people sitting or standing, staring off into the distance; shoeless children walking around (seemingly unsupervised); women bent over cooking pots.

The boda bodas zoom by, squeezing through places that seem impossible to squeeze through. After about an hour we turn off the highway onto a bumpy, dirt road (really bumpy). There are shacks pieced together with strips of battered wood, clay, and sheets of aluminum. Men and boys are lined up along the sides of the road, there faces filled with blank stares. They look sad. I wonder: “Do they have jobs?” It is a Thursday morning at 10:00. The women I see working (sweeping dirt, cooking over outside fires). But mostly I see men.

We get to our destination and after about 10 honks the gatekeeper unlocks and opens a large metal gate. We haul our luggage up three flights of stairs and enter our home for the next month. It is very nice (and clean) especially after seeing the living conditions all around us. It is much bigger than our house at home. It is filled with linoleum that we quickly cover with a film of red dirt. We unpack some of the things we brought to give away to the kids so Hill can see. We are so excited to give them away.

At about noon I decided to take a nap. It had been about 40 hours since I had slept in a bed – it felt so good to lie down. The sounds of outside flowed in through the open window - revving cars, honking horns, barking dogs. It didn’t seem to bother me - it was dark when I woke up! We shared a dinner consisting of noodles, rice, avocadoes, and peas (with onions, garlic, and tomatoes). It was delicious!

Moses, Sam S., and Sam L. came over later. The Sams are hilarious. It was fun spending the evening with them. Moses said he would pick us up at about 9 or 10 the next day and take us to the U.S. Embassy.

After spending a little time in our room hanging out with Hill and Court, I was back in bed. The outside noises continued – music, talking Ugandans, dogs, cars, honking horns – it was almost calming (I’m not sure why). I’ve only lived in the suburbs – I wonder if any city would sound like this at night.

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the latest on the sells

As of May 27, 2009...

Wow, it's been almost a year since we've updated this. Our family had a wonderful experience traveling to Uganda two summers ago, which prompted us to keep a journal on this blog. You can read our daily journal from our month long trip

This year brings new adventures. Our eldest daughter, Courtney, after graduating from George Fox University with honors, left for her third trip to India to spend nearly a YEAR to work at Happy Home for the Handicapped in Shimoga, India. You can read about her first trip to India and the impact it had on her life here. She'll also give us new updates from her current trip on this site (here). As of this writing, she is just starting to settle in and is very excited to be there. She has been looking forward to this for a long time!

Meanwhile, Hillary spent all of last year
touring the western U.S. with Matsiko, the choir of children we grew to love as our own in Uganda. She journalled about her experiences in Uganda if you'd like to see what that was like. At some point during this tour, she felt led to join the U.S. Army. Quite a big decision, and one she didn't take lightly. After moving through Basic Training with flying colors, she is now at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio training to become a combat medic. It's a very intense training, but we're sure she'll do well. Our whole family was able to travel to South Carolina to watch her graduate from Basic Training. What an awe inspiring experience!

Leslie is having a great year of teaching 5th graders. She's also in a Master's program, which takes a good chunk of her time. She's still finds time to read a TON of books. Literally, a ton!

Curt was overwhelmed by his experience as a first time overseas traveler and kept up his journal here (you can also read his random posts on everyday life here). The busyness of life and keeping track of his traveling kids has slowed down his writing, but he hopes to begin writing on a regular basis again soon.