dust and goodness

Hey guess what?
It's Day 3 now.  So what if it may have taken two weeks to get here, right?  I'm still operating on Africa-time.  Which indisputably and undoubtedly means I can do what I want.  ...Okay.  Maybe I'm just operating on April-time.  But you know all my excuses, uh reasons, for the delays were valid. Valid, as in, forgivable and understandable. Whatever.  What matters is that we made it to Day 3.

Oh, guess what else?  We actually worked on Day 3.
We installed some rain-catch systems (one of the church staff called them water-harvesters---which I thought was an awesome description).  I know it looks like we just toured around in vans and boats and lived in a mansion (you would be correct in those observations; those are all true facts about Day 1 and 2) but we also did what we came to do.  And what we came to do was this:
Experience Uganda.  Meet the people. Talk to the people.  Encourage and be encouraged by the people.  Love the people.  Become aware of living conditions on the other side of the world.  Be a servant.  Be humble.  Be thankful.  Be a helper.  A listener.  To share in the work.  To walk side-by-side for a small moment in time with those in a drastically different environment than our own...

In fact, I believe we had a superb, gradual immersion into the culture and place that is Uganda.  From our midnight arrival at the airport (where we waited an hour in customs and there was no a/c and then the power blacked out ...oh, and we hadn't slept in 25 hours), to our nighttime walk though the inky-blackness of the airport parking lot, to our high-speed van ride to Kampala (during which we smelled smells we had never smelled before), to our stunner guesthouse in Entebbe with the intense security system, to waking up in the smokey dawn to the sound of roosters and geese and dogs and cars, to our first glimpse of that gentle beauty of the hills surrounding the city of Kampala.
Then from our first Ugandan breakfast (consisting of, but not limited to, bananas and peas) to touring the chaotic and congested streets of Kampala, to eating at a lovely outdoor Indian restaurant, to seeing Buloba community for the first time (where we were welcomed with open arms by exuberant children, teachers, and church staff),  to realizing how many layers of orange dust we were absolutely coated in (and with that, understanding why so many poeple we see in the city and villages are also covered in a fine dusting of orange), to eating our first Ugandan dinner (afterwhich the power went out...and stayed out), to waking up again in the early morning smokey haze of distant rubber, brick-drying, and trash fires.  Then, on Day Two, to the shores of Lake Victoria, to Bethany Village, then to Loving Hearts Babies home.  And then scraping off layers of caked-on orange dust---in the darkness of the power-outage.  And waking up to discover you still had orange-tinted skin.  And deciding it must be a tan from that nearby equator, not glued-on filth.

Day 1 and 2 were saturated with dust and goodness.  And so were we.
But I digress.  Moving on to Day 3.

Day 3 was saturated with dust and goodness. And so were we.
Okay, so maybe I can't digress about the dust and the goodness...
But I can show you some of what we did and saw on Day 3.

This is a papyrus swamp we passed every day on the way out to the village of Buloba.  I mentioned this swamp in an earlier post when I talked about Idi Amin... You remember.
A typical side-of-the-road scene.
A hardware shop.  Scaffolding framing for sale. 
A boda-boda with three.  And one with one.
Another typical strip of road-side shops... 
Can you see what's hanging in the first shop?  It's what you think it is... Dinner.
Oh.  Now this is fun.  Right before the papyrus swamp there was a fish market.  Lots of people were at the fish market...  Because lots of people like to eat fish.  

There were other things, er creatures, at the fish market... 
Because other things, er creatures, like to eat fish...
These guys.  These prehistoric birds of prey.  
These freaky flying creatures that are as large as a human. 


Are you seeing this?  Are you realizing the enormity of these raptor/ ostrich/ pelican/ freak-a-zoids?  Do you see how they were about to snatch us out of the van and eat us for their third mid-morning meal?
You do?  Okay, good.

They would lie-in-wait on the top of the light poles lining the sides of the road... Hovering over our heads... Looming above us, with complete advantage over our puny van... They were the war lords of the fish camp, with some of their group on guard-duty---very intimidating sentinels we (I) had no desire to mess with.  We (I) didn't risk many photo-shoots of the beasts.  Because everyone (I) was terrified to hang out the van windows in order to snag a photo of the feathered-monsters.

Then there was this.  Instead of using traffic cones, they just throw some sticks in the road.  Drive through at your own risk.  I dared Eddie to swerve in and out of them, and he would have, but David spoiled our fun.
Just kidding.  I didn't dare Eddie, because I didn't think of it 'til just now.  But I wish I had thought of it!  Eddie probably would have done it---and dominated.  And David probably wouldn't have liked my scheme very much.  So you see?  There is some reality to what I write.  My reality.  Clearly, the best kind.

And then this.  This stretch of road signaled that we were close to Buloba.  How hauntingly beautiful is this place?  So evocative of timelessness and nostalgia---nostalgia for something I had never seen until I saw this.  How does that work?  I can't figure it out.  I just know I cannot get over the poignant, compelling, and nostalgic grandeur of this place.  
Almost there!

And then we were!  And we met Zaria and some of her family.  She originally owned the land the church and school were built on.  Her home is just steps away from the front doors of the church.  She told us she has twelve children, but that only nine of them are still living.  That's her oldest daughter on the left.  
I was in love with the daughter's dress.  And her.  She had such a gentle spirit about her.  I was hoping my camera would be able to capture some of her serene sweetness.  Can you see it?

Beautiful girl.  Beautiful dress.

Goodbye Baby!  Goodbye Goat!  Goodbye Longhorn! 
...Uh, Longhorn?  Don't you be eye-ballin' me, boy!   
You hear me?...Um, okay, I'm leaving.  Now.  Right now.

And then it was time for brunch!  The kids take a break from their studies and are served this porridge.

How many Americans does it take to serve porridge to Ugandan school children?  ...Hey look!  I'm in this picture.  That's 'cause Josh begged me to give him my camera, and... Okay, I forced Josh to take my camera (because he claimed he had never taken a picture with any camera besides a disposable one, and well, that's just wrong).  So after a brief tutorial, he joyfully, and without protest, snapped a few photos around the Buloba church and school grounds.  
He took this one...

And this one..

And this one too!

And then he said he was finished taking pictures, thank you very much.  
The kids still had a little bit of class left before they were able to take their brunch-break, so a few of us got to go into the classrooms and be spectators.  When we walked in, they stood up and greeted us with something like, "We welcome you, our visitors.  Welcome to Primary Two at Ebenezer Primary School. We praise God for you, our visitors."  

The teacher, Faith, was calling out each child's name to come to the front to receive their English Spelling test results.  Every time a student's name was called, he/she received an applause.  It was pretty darn cute. 

Construction paper, torn into fourths, and then written on with little nubs of pencils---sharpened with small scraps of old razors, erasers long, long gone.

The girls beat the boys on Spelling test scores!  Go girls!
Their notebooks.  Pieces of found paper.  Bound with twine and newspaper.  I thought they were awesome.

This little one's name is Maria.  In the beginning, the kids had a difficult time understanding my name.  I think they thought I was telling them what month I was born in or something (not the first time that has happened in a foreign country).  So I said my full name, including my middle name, Marie, and this sweet girl jumped up and down and excitedly told me that that was her name too! She stayed glued next to my side for the remainder of our time in Buloba.  I did not have any objections to that.  

After hanging out with kids during their brunch-break, we walked down the road behind the church, to our first scheduled house-to-receive-a-rain-catch-system of the day.  While trooping down the red-dirt trail-like road we saw this:

And now I'm going to leave you with this little cliff-hanger:
What do you think we saw when we arrived at the house?  What do you think a rain-catch looks like?  What do you think we munched on after we got finished installing the rain-catch?  What totally sacrificial and amazing gift do you think was given to us?  

You'll just have to wait an' find out, my friends!  But if you make fun of my lame-o cliff-hanger (or call me out on what this really is--- me running out of time to finish this post) then I won't tell you any answers.  So be on your best behavior!  

'til sometime very soon, 

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