Friday, September 27, 2013

A Lesson in African Culture

We have now been in Uganda exactly 3 months, so I don't claim to be any sort of expert in African culture. But I thought you might enjoy reading about some of the things I've learned from other missionaries and my own observations:

  • Africans live in community. I think Americans would have trouble envisioning what I mean. Not knowing you neighbors would be unimaginable for them. For example, greeting is of utmost importance. You would really offend someone if you did not take the time to shake hands and ask after their family...every time you see them. There is very much a "what's mine is yours" mentality.
  • Planning for the future is an unknown, most people live day to day in the here and now. For example, we've had a lot of work done on our house and we've found that it is very difficult for our workers to estimate how many supplies they will need or how long it will take.
  • Money management comes into play when I talk about planning for the future. Community, especially family, takes precedence. For example, lets say a man has been saving money for repairs on his house or for his children to go to school. If a family member were to come to him and say, "my child is sick. I need this money you have." The man would be obligated to hand over his money. It would be very offensive not to. For this reason, we keep money that our workers want to save in our home safe so that if a family member demands it, they can honestly say, "I don't have it."
  • Getting married is a difficult thing. The man must pay a dowry for the woman he wants to marry. This is usually anywhere from 1-10 cows, each costing up to $500. This is a fortune in African terms! On top of that, the groom is expected to pay for the wedding, which is also expensive. 
  • Upon marriage, the couple is expected to begin having children right away. If they don't, people will consider the woman barren and the man may decide to get a second wife. 
  • There is no such thing as credit here. Everything, no matter the amount, is done in cash. This has been hard for Chad and I to get used to. We're not used to carrying cash!
  • This is something that breaks my heart: there is a lot of separation of families, even in Christian communities. Often a man will move to an urban area to go to school or for work and leave his family in the village, visiting them on the weekends. And children are often sent to boarding schools. These separations often lead to unfaithfulness and polygamy. 
  • This is something I really appreciate: a slower lifestyle. NOTHING happens on time. We call it "African time" Taking the afternoon off to go to the pool with friends is perfectly acceptable. Being an hour late because someone needed to talk to you is an everyday occurrence. This can be irritating to us Americans who believe that "time is money." But it's actually been a really nice change and we have come to appreciate it. 
Hope you enjoyed my little culture lesson! Stay tuned for more in the future....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Molly's Room...Finally!

When I was pregnant with Molly and I found out that I was having a baby girl, I immediately started to get excited about planning a super cute room for her. But in the midst of packing up a container and moving to Africa (no big deal) I haven't quite been able to put it all together. You can look here to see all of the projects I had going when I was pregnant. Now that we are finally settled for good I have been anxious to put it all together. 

While we were still in the US we knew what house we would be moving into here in Uganda, and that it had 4 bedrooms. I wanted to dedicate one room to toys, playing, and homeschool, but I still wanted the kids to have their own rooms AND have a guest room. So I decided Molly's room would double as the guest room. 

All of the furniture and the rug came from Ikea. The storage baskets are from Pottery Barn Kids. 

I made the curtains, crib sheets, and changing pad covers myself....with a little help. :)

The plaque was a gift from my friend Tara.

I got this ideas for the embroidery hoops and bow board from Pinterest. My dad made the wooden letters for me.

The bird prints came from Etsy.

The bedding came from Target.

And the wreath was a gift from my friend Jessica.

I just love how it turned out! The only thing I hate is the ugly red painted concrete floor, but I can't do much about that. :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Molly 10 Months!

Time continues to fly by! I can't believe that in two months we'll be celebrating Molly's birthday. Here's what our sweetheart's been up to this month:

Molly is wearing size 18 month clothes and size 4 diapers. She can actually fit into some things that she had previously outgrown because she has slimmed down some. 

She is nursing 5 times a day and eating 3 solid meals: baby food and finger foods. Some new foods this month are avocado (her new favorite!), eggs, yogurt, and some exotic foods like beets, apricot, and prunes thanks to some baby food my wonderful mother-in-law sent over. :)

Her sleeping has (finally) become more consistent and reliable. She sleeps from 7 PM to 7 AM and takes two naps. Her morning nap is usually 30-45 minutes and her afternoon nap is 1-1 1/2 hours. I don't think she'll be taking a morning nap much longer, but I'm hoping to be wrong about that!

Molly is saying her first word: mama. She likes to say it all the time! :)

Molly is pulling up all over the place. She pretty much wants to stand all the time. She is a really fast crawler too, you have to watch her carefully. 

Her hair is really starting to fill in...and she has precious curls!

When people are clapping or you ask her to clap, Molly will pat her side with one hand.

Molly loves to hold your hands and lay back when she's sitting on your lap.

Laughing and squealing at her brother is still a favorite activity.

She loves to get in bed with us first thing in the morning. It's become a sweet tradition. 

She loves to be cuddled and held, but only by mommy and daddy!

She does not enjoy playing alone, she cries when you leave the room. 

She has recently started to really enjoy playing outside. She takes turns riding on Graham's push toys. 

Molly is such a precious, sweet little ball of sunshine! I've said it before, but taking care of her is just a pleasure. We can't imagine what our family would be like without her!

Ugandan Lunch

Ever since we've gotten settled into our new home I've wanted to do something special for our workers. We employ 3 guards and a housekeeper. After discussing my idea with several people I decided to invite them all over for an outdoor lunch this past Saturday. I asked Betty and her friend Miriam to do the shopping and the cooking. I wanted them to cook all the things that Ugandans like to eat. 

So yesterday Betty and Miriam arrived in the morning and were busy little bees all day. We were expecting people at 1:00 (Ugandans eat their meals later) but in true African spirit, no one showed until about 2:30. Which was good because the food was ready to eat at 3:00. We served rice, Irish potatoes, chapati (kind of like tortillas), cooked cabbage, chicken, beef, and cake. And Ugandans love soda so we had lots of it. Everyone loved the food and said it was just what they like, which was what I had wanted! We sent all the leftovers home with them. We had two of our guards come with their families (one didn't make it), Betty, Miriam and her two daughters, our landlord George, and John, a man who has been doing some painting for us. 

Everyone left around 6:00. Now that's a late lunch! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to bless our workers with a nice meal and we hope to deepen these relationships through experiences like these.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I just wanted to share some pictures that I recently acquired of me with my stateside friends. I miss these ladies every day!!!

Village Visit

We have three guards who work for us to keep our compound safe. They are Martin, Isaac, and Steven. We really like and trust them. Martin has twin baby girls who are 6 months old and several weeks ago he invited us to his daughters' baby dedication in his village. We were excited to say yes!

We left yesterday around 11:30. We carpooled with three other friends/church workers. We made the interesting (and really scary) 30 minute drive along remote dirt roads that wind in and out of the hills, the trees, the villages. When we stopped we were, of course, greeted by a herd of about 20 African children. The church was a rectangular building with mud walls and a tin roof filled with backless wooden benches. There was a table at the front surrounded by plastic chairs, thats where we were to sit as visitors of honor. 

The baby dedication was also a church service. It began with introductions of every person followed by praise and worship, which is call and response style. A local church leader then stood and preached a short but passionate sermon on baptism. I was quite shocked when eight people then came forward to be baptized, praise God! Then our friend and fellow missionary J.P. preached a sermon. This whole time, the 20+ children who were sitting on the floor in front of us all had their eyes glued on Graham and pressure. :)

We then all piled into the 2 cars to drive to the river for the baptisms. How amazing to be a part of it! We drove back and the baby dedication finally began. The twins, Anna and Angel, were absolutely precious. Chad and J.P. were asked to lead the prayers for the two little ones and their parents. Then everyone broke out into joyful song and the babies were passed around from person to person. I got to hold and love on them both. 

We were told then that we should drive to Martin's house for lunch. It had started to rain, as it rains every afternoon here at this time of year, and everything started to get really muddy. We were greeted by Martin's extended family and offered drinks. We let Graham have a fanta, his very first soda! Finally, at around 3:00, the food came out. It was chicken, rice, and matoke (sort of like bananas). Even though for the Ugandans this was a special meal, a treat even, this food was hard for us to choke down and we honestly ate as little as possible. They also served us cake. 

I think it meant a lot to Martin and Irene for us to travel to their village and help celebrate their twins. It was a blessing for us to be there. We are proud of our children for enduring more than four hours of being stared at and having to sit still and quiet in a hot stuffy corner during a long church service with no flushing toilets. It was our first trip to a village but certainly not our last!

Things I'm Good At

I love stealing a good idea for a fun blog post! I got this one from my friend Jessica.

Things I'm Not Good At:

  • Getting up early: I always have good intentions, but it rarely happens. :(
  • Completing projects: I often start with enthusiasm and lose steam.
  • Exercising: this is just embarrassing, but yeah....hasn't happened in months.
  • Letting things go: regrets sometimes haunt me.
  • Confrontation: there aren't many things I hate more. I often avoid it at all costs!
  • Staying off of my smart phone: it's an addiction.
  • Keeping the housework caught up: thankfully I am now blessed to have someone to help me with this one!

Things I'm Good At:

  • Spending quality time with people: it's very important to me.
  • Clothes Shopping: I enjoy putting together things that work for me a good price.
  • Inviting people over: love it, anytime. 
  • Trying new things: I'm game!
  • Cheering up Graham or Chad: I (usually) know just how to make the world right again.
  • Making our home comfortable: it's my pleasure. 
  • Making new friends: I'm always pleased to have one more!