Thursday, August 9, 2007

curt's journal from Uganda-Aug. 8

Today, we woke up before the crack o’ dawn to head out to the school in the bush village of Lugazi. I’ve been saying Loo-GAH-zi, but our driver Moses corrected me. It’s Loo-gah-ZI. We drove out into the country at breakneck speed, flying down a narrow two lane highway at 110 k/h (nearly 70mph). Moses knows how to put the pedal to the medal. I know 70mph doesn’t sound that fast, but when you see the roads, it feels like 100mph. They’re full of potholes that he swerves to avoid. Meanwhile along the side of the road are scads of little children walking to school…bicycles loaded down with things to be sold in the market…boda-bodas swaying back and forth and passing one another…oncoming traffic, swerving to miss their own potholes…and faster cars passing slower cars, darting back into their lane just in the nick of time. In most places there are no lines on the road, so it’s every man for himself. Passing lane? What’s that!?!

Moses is a great drive though, so we feel really safe. He really knows what he’s doing and has extremely quick reflexes. He’s the man!

Anyway, the terrain gets more green and “jungley” and is more mountainous than Kampala. It was really beautiful. At times it made me think of Oregon with the towers of green on both sides of the highway, but instead of pine forest, it’s more tropical with brightly colored flowers and banana trees filling in any gaps. As beautiful as the drive was, nothing could prepare me for the beauty ahead.

We exited the highway and drove for several miles on another “bike path” looking road filled with huge holes filled with water. Finally, we pulled into the St. Mbuga School of Lugazi, a quaint and very rustic school. The children saw us for a second, made sure it was us, then turned and sprinted like nobody’s business. They started singing the “welcome visitors” song that we’ve heard before. As I looked around, the level of poverty impressed me. They looked more ragtag than the groups we had seen earlier. Some in their school uniform, some not. I found out later that they were expecting us tomorrow, so many of them had washed their uniforms and couldn’t wear them today. They were a little upset about that. They really like to put on their “Sunday best” when “viztuhs” come. I liked it more though. You got to see them as they are. The beauty I saw in these children was awe-inspiring. These were VERY poor country kids, and there was a sadness to them, but still, the JOY came through in sparkles that grew the longer we stayed. They put on a show for us, and although it wasn’t as polished as it might have been had we been there a day later, I absolutely LOVED the rawness of it. They gave us their all. At one point, Hannington, the assistant superintendent of all the schools, jumped in and danced the traditional dance that some of the older girls were performing. He was hilarious as he shook his hips and stayed in perfect harmony with their choreography.

We spent much of the morning taking pictures and collecting sponsorship information. This is a daunting task, that is fairly unorganized, but Hillary has done a great job of keeping it organized this summer. I think some of the problem is the lack of communication to this remote area. Leslie and I do kind of the easy part of taking the pictures. It’s tiring, but I Courtney, Hillary, and Mary are work much harder. Today, Hillary checked and rechecked the list and kept everything straight with Hopkins and Hannington, while Mary and Courtney helped the team of people collect biographical information from little kids that don’t speak much English.

After this was all done, we all spread out and did different things with kids. I found Hannington, running as hard as he could, pushing the merry-go-round and laughing his hearty, contagious laugh. Soon, Hannington, Mary, and I went to play soccer with a gargantuan group of kids. We tried hard to represent the USA well, but I am not a very skilled soccer player. They did have a pretty hefty home field advantage though. In the middle of the field were a few large trees, a large pile of dirt, a huge stack of bricks, and various large rocks and brick strewn throughout for effect. I discovered the rocks when I was going for a breakaway early in the game. I was all alone, with nothing between me and the goal but the goalkeeper. Advantage: Large Mzungu!

…As I laid on my back in the Ugandan dirt, I reflected about what had brought me to this point in my life…I questioned my decision to play American football in high school instead of soccer (which would’ve been very helpful)…and I wondered if the 50 plus children would ever stop laughing at…er…I mean WITH me. I also contemplated a rematch on my home turf at Aloha High School. Let’s see how they run on that artificial turf with NO ROCKS! It was the first of many such falls during the match, and I think I might have broken one of my fingers (probably just jammed), but it was a LOT of fun. The USA lost to Uganda 7-6. I ducked out of the game early to give my team a chance to get back in the game. Mary continued on, representing our country very well.

I found Leslie reading a picture book to a large group of kids while Courtney sat with a large circle of children. These kids just ate up any attention we gave them. A tiny girl named Mabel (another one) and was just staring at me as I pulled my camera out of the van. I motioned her to come to me and she took my hand. Then she just cuddled into me. I think that may be what I miss most about Uganda, the affection of children, even strangers. Leslie snapped a picture of the two of us that I will have framed when I get home. I wanted to take some pictures, so I handed Mabel to Leslie and I just wandered around. Since I was already dirty from soccer, I got an up close and personal picture of a pig. I took photos of kids in various stages of play. I took pictures of kids talking, playing keep away, playing soccer, eating sugar cane…I even saw a girl hoeing in the dirt, just for fun! I wandered into a classroom and found a kid singing to himself. He was in first grade and seemed to enjoy my presence. He had his homework book out, so I asked him to show it to me. I asked him questions about each page, quizzing him on what he had learned. He was eating it up. He seemed so proud to show off what he knew. I was taking the example of what I had learned from Eric yesterday. Soon, we had a crowd in this quiet room and four or five boys listened intently, as this boy grew prouder and prouder. I showed them my camera and some of the pictures I had taken. They practiced their English by naming everything in the pictures. I asked them if they wanted me to take their picture and they started jumping up and down. The result in the doorway of that room was a keeper.

We also met the little girl my friends, the Wards, sponsor. Leslie spent a lot of time with her and read her a book. I haven’t talked with her yet about that experience, but I’m sure she’ll share. At the end of the day, Leslie gave her the book. I saw a big smile on her face. Earlier in the day, it was everything we could do to get this shy little girl to smile. By the end of the day, the smile was quick and beaming.

Lugazi was a great experience. I enjoyed every minute of it and hope to keep in touch with the principle, Julius. He’s a great young man who loves the kids and is proud of his school. He hasn’t finished college yet, but hopes to eventually go back and finish, then come back to this school. He can’t afford it right now, but hopes to soon.

On the way home I saw a boda-boda with a queen sized mattress rolled up and loaded on the back. I also saw one loaded with at least 20 dozen eggs. What did YOU see on the road today?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...what did I see on the road today?? Well, (I didn't really see it on the road), but as Warren & I were walking this AM, we saw many jets flying overhead, from the airshow, I assume, at the Hillsboro airport! Oh, & we saw a few cats & dogs. The cats walk with us! Have you ever walked a cat? I think Chloe & Tobi are becoming friends, finally!!

I enjoy reading your blogs. I look forward to hearing from you, also, Courtney. (you're the only one we haven't heard from!)

Warren has a dental app't. this aft. near your house, so tho't we'd go say 'hi' to the dogs & Stephanie (if she's there)

Talk more later...


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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.