A Week of Firsts

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Monday – First homemade guacamole experience

I can’t even describe how delicious the avocados are here.  They’re huge, the perfect texture, and flavourful.  Mash one of these suckers up, add some lemon juice, garlic, and salt, and you have the best guacamole ever!!!

Tuesday – First funeral

On Tuesday we attended our first funeral in Uganda.  Funerals in rural Uganda are unfortunately common.  They are the only event that begins on time.  And they are a community affair.  Most village members stay overnight with the family of the deceased, and contribute money, to help the family pay for the transportation of people who have come from far, and to help pay for the meals that the community eats together during the mourning period.

Wednesday – Paul’s first football (soccer) game

It was fun to watch Paul play his first village soccer game on the pitch in front of TRC.  Paul wasn’t used to the uneven ground, but he had another advantage – he was wearing shoes 😉  Overall he was able to keep up pretty well and had a lot of fun.

Thursday – First (small) conversation in Luganda

Learning Luganda has been tough because it’s so different from English and any other language I’ve studied.  On Thursday I’d finally memorized enough that I could have a mini conversation without having to pause for thirty seconds to try and remember a word.  Granted, the conversation consisted of the greetings we hear everyday, but I’m happy with any sense of progress!  🙂

Friday – First second time eating guacamole – so good!!!

– Krista Joy

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Going On An Adventure

This article was originally posted at Convergemagazine.com here.

Ever since my wife accepted the position as field director of a small NGO in rural Uganda (The Tekera Resource Centre) in late December, people continually referred to our move as an adventure.

“What an adventure!” our friends would say, “You are going to have an amazing adventure!” And before I realized, I too was talking to people like I was Bilbo Baggins going on an adventure.

We didn’t originally think of our move as an adventure, it was more of an opportunity that we may not have again. However, the more I think about it, the more I begin to believe that our time in Uganda is indeed an adventure. Not an adventure in the grandiose hobbit-in-middle-earth kind of way but more in a I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-I’m-going-to-do-it-anyways kind of way. I guess anytime you move halfway across the world to a place that has solar electricity, no running water, and no internet, there will no doubt be a sense of adventure.

Going on an adventure does not necessarily mean that you have to be the hero of an epic story or learn how to tame a lion with your bare hands (although this is on my to-do list), I think it just means sacrificing what is known in order to embrace what is unknown.

My wife and I are not on an adventure because we are unique in any way, it is simply because we are willing to sacrifice our comforts for our passions. We want to take this opportunity before a career, a home, or kids, make it much more difficult to do so. These things are not bad, of course, and are adventures in and of themselves. My wife and I long for these things but we know that before we establish or root ourselves in a job or a place, we will be very well served to live and work with those who are much different – and often much poorer – than ourselves.

So before we even knew what was happening, we now find ourselves in rural Uganda. Although we have sacrificed a good deal of time, money, and being close to family to be on this adventure, I have a not-so-sneaking suspicion that even though we have sacrificed much, we will be enriched more than we will be impoverished. And in the end I am sure that we won’t even feel like we will have sacrificed anything at all.

– Paul

Arriving in Uganda

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We arrived in Uganda feeling quite good considering the distance we traveled. We landed in Entebbe, the major airport about 1 hr from Kampala the capital city, at 11:30pm on Tuesday night and stayed at a hotel that was a 10min drive from the airport. Jess Casey, the field director that Krista is replacing at Tekera Resrouce Centre (TRC), picked us up the next day and we made the 4hr drive through torrential rain, past the equator, and around n’ around potholes until we made it to the town of Tekera, a tiny strip of clay homes that is well beyond powerlines and paved roads. When we first arrived there were a few hours where we felt like asking what on earth have we gotten ourselves into when we found out that most of the people here don’t speak English (we are slowly beginning to learn Lugandan) and realized that we are white city folk, but that dissipated fairly quickly when we got a tour around the compound to see all the cute Ugandan kids (about 350 attend the primary school here), the farm animals (they have oxen, cows, pigs, 5-day old baby pigs, chickens, roosters, etc.), the farm (they cultivate a fair number of fruits and vegetables, and they have about 2000 pineapple plants that we get amazing fresh pineapple from everyday), the resident guard dog (a slightly dopey dog who loves people and is named Cujo after Curtis Joseph), and the people (who love to have their picture taken). The weather hasn’t hurt either. Oh, and they play lots of soccer. There is a soccer field on the compound – and when I say field I mean they have a couple uneven soccer nets on either side of a bumpy field of grass and dirt – that I look forward to playing on. I am told they always love when mzungus (white people) play so I think I will fit in just fine here.

– Paul

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Pineapple field in front of our home in the background.

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Town of Tekera

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Kids at Tekera Primary School

London Layover

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I really enjoyed my first time in London!  We didn’t have too much time there, but we were able to see a few sights.  We saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square.  Two highlights: 1) Going to a service at Westminster Abbey.  The boys choir was incredible!  I also loved saying the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Grace with the body of Christ in London.  I love how Christians declare the same words all over the world!  2) Our pub experience at St. James Tavern. It was the quintessential London pub experience!  I hope we’re able to visit London on our way back, so we can do some more exploring 🙂

– Krista

Leaving Vancouver

I am writing this from the Vancouver airport as we wait to begin our journey to Uganda. The Vancouver airport seems to be a fitting place to write the first post to this blog because it will be our last Canadian cultural experience for a good while. The airport is a wonderland of maple syrup, Native art, taxidermy wolves, fake salmon rivers, and Chinese lanterns and dragons for Chinese New Years – I guess it is more of a Vancouver-Canadian cultural experience.

However, being in the airport reminds us that we are not just moving to Uganda but also leaving Vancouver and Canada. Since Krista accepted her position as the field director of the Tekera Resource Center in late December, most of our energy has been towards the move to Africa, and it wasn’t until a week or two ago that we realized we were going to have to say goodbye to Vancouver. Krista and I moved to Vancouver only two weeks after we got married so it was our first home together. We saw bears, whales, seals, and eagles. We snowboarded, hiked, snowshoed, camped, swam, ran, studied, ate, laughed, and cried.

Ultimately though, it was the people who made Vancouver much more than a place. We made amazing friends who supported us in many ways and were part of a church community that we will have a difficult time finding elsewhere.

Vancouver – and its people – will be missed.

– Paul

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