Thursday, August 2, 2007

curt's journal from Uganda-Aug. 1

Well, I didn’t end up getting much sleep, the dogs were howling all night. I captured a little bit of it using our camcorder, so as soon as I can extract the audio, I’ll try to post it on here. This is probably the last time I’ll mention sleep, I’m sure you don’t really care how much or little I sleep. Now that we’re accustomed to the time change, it’s just like home. Sometimes you sleep well, sometimes you don’t. I still miss Dr. Rathbone though. It didn’t really matter though. We had a great day!

Speaking of doctors, I interviewed Joseph (Jolly) today. I found out why his nickname is Jolly. He is a very happy young man despite his circumstances. As I mentioned he is a third year medical student. He was housed and supported by Pastor Moses after both of his parents died of Aids when he was very young. He has four younger siblings that he is hoping to support. All but one of them are illiterate and are still living in the bush. I am amazed by the dedication of this 22 year old young man. He volunteers most days in the clinic so that he can get some real hands on training, he plays keyboard at the church, and maintains excellent grades while taking extra classes in medical school. When I asked him how much it costs to go to medical school, he said, “It’s very expensive. About $1.8 million shillings per semester. (plus about $800,000 shillings for book fees, exam fees, and additional fees).” Of course, that meant nothing to me because it requires math to make the conversion. Leslie figured out that it averages out to around $200 per month. It seems like there might be some doctors back in the states that could swing that to put another doctor in business in Uganda. I can’t wait for some of you to see his video an hear his story.

Dr. Pauline’s sister, Joyce, also volunteers at the clinic. She does that to try and somehow pay back Pauline for taking her in. One of her cousins offered to sponsor her education on the condition that she “stay” with him in his house. She almost did it, because she’s desperate to finish nursing school, but decided it wouldn’t be worth it. So, she lives with Pauline and had to drop out of school. She makes bead necklaces out of rolled up paper in her spare time to make ends meet, so you can bet we’ll be buying out her supply. In Uganda, you have to take three years of nursing school consecutively, so she’ll have to start over when she gets to go back. Nursing school is much cheaper than for doctors at about $900,000 shillings per semester (around $700?). I’m so impressed by her heart and integrity. Her smile is contagious.

In the afternoon, we went to Lusaka to St. Mbuga Primary School, where Hillary could often be found. The staff there speaks so highly of Hillary, they’re all sad that she’ll be going back with us. While we were waiting for the kids to get out of exams, Leslie, Mary, and I wandered down the road from the school. Just about ten steps from the gate of the school and I felt like I was in another time. It has a certain charm to it though. I went back and forth between being a little scared while, at the same time, totally wanting to just stay there for awhile. I talked to Mary later and she said the same thing. Partly, it’s because everyone’s always looking at us. When the little kids see us, their faces instantly light up and they start jumping around and yelling, “Muzungu! Muzungu! Muzungu! Hi Muzungu!” When we wave at them, they get REALLY happy. The adults are a different story. I can’t quite read them. They smile a lot when we give attention to their children. Mostly they just stare at us and kind of move toward us. At one point, Leslie was just snapping away with her camera and Mary and I were both feeling a little closed in an vulnerable (maybe without reason, but we both felt it) so we decided to head back up the hill to the school. I’ll try to post some pictures of this path down from the school. It’s weird, we’re in the biggest city in Uganda, but it feels like country living in many parts. I can’t really describe it other than it feels like everyone’s camping in a huge crowded campground. A very Western concept, I think.

When we got to the school, the little preschool kids (“the babies”) surrounded us and wanted to play with us. That was a lot of fun. Then when the big kids got out of their National Exams, a bunch of the girls from the school, including the girls from the choir, had dance practice with drumming by some of the boys, including Bruno, who we help sponsor. They did traditional dances and were instructed by Ronnie, who according to Sam Straxy, the choir director, “is an expert on all traditional dances.” It was a lot of fun to watch. It was so fun to see the girls our extended family sponsors. Every time they caught our eyes, their face would light up and they would get all proud. Yvonne, who Hillary sponsors, danced with her school sweater on the whole time, because she had some little holes in her dress that she didn’t want any of us to see. I’ve met hundreds of people over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has a smile like hers. Several of the other kids come in a very close second. Jane, with her semi-shy-almost-mischievous smile…her sister Anita, with a gracious, almost blushing smile…Julius, whose whole face smiles…Blest Deborah, who smiles with her eyes…Bruno, who looks at you like he loves you more than anything in the world…Gloria, whose face lights up like a beacon. People in the U.S. are just going to LOVE these kids when they come on tour next year (hopefully).

It was a great day!

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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.