it's lake victoria y'all, continued...

Day 2// Kampala to Gaba to Lake Victoria to Bethany Village and Back

Lake Victoria.
Do we need words?  No.  But I don't think I can resist just a few sentences about this majestic body of water.  Needless to say (as we just established), I was absolutely thrilled to just catch a glimpse of the lake.  And when I found out we were going to be taking a boat on Lake Victoria in order to get to Bethany Village Orphanage?  I was ecstatic.  And when I found out we would be riding in a traditional boat on Lake Victoria?  I just died.  It was unfortunate and inconvenient, me dying right before we stepped on the boat.  I don't know how Jonathan explained it to the captain.

It was about a forty minute boat ride to get to the orphanage.  The ride back took about two hours. ...Two hours because the boat stopped working.  Something with the gears, or taking on water, or no gas.... who knows.  Once I glanced behind me toward the back of the boat and saw David, our guide and our keeper, calmly bailing water out of the boat.  He caught me watching with a 'should-I-be-concerned-right -now' expression on my face, and just smiled a sweet and mischievous smile and kept on slowly bailing.  So I shrugged and decided to enjoy the leisurely ride back to Gaba.  I knew no one was going to tell us what was wrong becasue they didn't want us to be scared or have to worry about anything.  We also all knew that they would do anything it took to ensure our safety and comfort, so there was really nothing to worry about.  Except for the thought of my camera drowning, a swim in Lake Victoria wasn't the most terrible thing I could think of---minus the piraƱas and parasites of course.  Therefore, we all pretended like we didn't know that the boat was broken and enjoyed the sun beaming down on our faces while we rode in a traditional yellow boat on Lake Victoria.

In hindsight, that boat being broken was the best possible thing that could have happened during our lake excursion.

Fisherman putting in their day's work out on the lake.

Our yellow boat.  Slightly leaky, slightly broken, and completely wonderful.

This water is supposed to be here.  Well maybe not supposed to be here, but at any rate it's okay that it is.  A little bit of it anyway.  On the ride back this little stream turned into a slightly bigger river.  And the bottle is supposed to be here also.  Because, simply, this is Africa.  

King Kong lives here.  And other assorted monsters, like that Loch Ness one, probably.  Just look at this place.  It's alive and untamed.  It has such a heartbeat.   I alternated between feeling like I had stepped back in time and feeling like I had stepped into a movie.

And finally, we made it to the shores of the Bethany Village Orphanage.  Where that man with the hoe was kind enough to be the perfect scale figure for our first photos of Bethany Village.  Thank you man-with-the-hoe.  You were a most wonderful welcoming figure.

Over and out, from Africa via America (I'm on U.S. soil, safe and sound),


it's lake victoria, y'all

Day 2// Kampala to Gaba to Lake Victoria to Bethany Village Orphanage and Back

Day Two began bright and early with the typical weaving through cars, boda-boda's, and people.  We were headed to Gaba, basically a suburb of Kampala.  Gaba is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria.  Not a bad location.  Remember I told you that Gaba Community Church is the church that planted Buloba Church?  The Gaba community we saw is a drastically different Gaba community than the one that existed just a mere 20 years ago.  The senior pastor of Gaba Church, Pastor Peter, came to eat dinner with us last night and told us the story of the church.  Gaba was formerly the site of a tiny fishing village that was home to many many witchdoctors.  The people believed that spirits liked to reside by the water, so the site of the present-day Gaba church was formerly home to multiple thatch-roofed shrines dedicated to the spirits and gods.  Pastor Peter spoke of the day that he watched bulldozers raze the huts so that the church could expand.  And while the church had existed in the midst of the shrines, Pastor Peter told us of the many years of fasting and praying that had led up to that special day.

Here are some photos of Gaba Community.  (It used to be spelled Ggaba and it was modernized to just Gaba.  I kind of like the old spelling!)

A typical sight on the streets.  Trucks piled to overflowing with bananas.

Those feet belong to a man who welcomed and re-welcomed us to Uganda after he found out we were associated with Gaba Church.  He had two more baskets totally filled with those tomatoes.  

And here is our first glimpse of that grand and majestic body of water, 
Lake Victoria.

I have many more pictures of this day.  We took that yellow boat to Bethany Village Orphange, about a forty-five minute boat ride from Gaba, and I want to post those photos and then do a post on Bethany Village.  I  am going to be posting the rest of the days of my trip after I return home.  There are stories that need to be told and photos that need to be shared.  Uganda is a beautiful country with what has to be the most hospitable and humble people in the entire world.  I want to share them with you so you can love the people and this country too.

In other huge news that I can't wait til later to tell you about:
I just got off the phone with the author of one of my very favorite books, A Distant Grief by Kefa Semapangi.  I read the book a few years ago and it was the first time I had ever really known much about Uganda's history. I have re-read it twice in the years since then and brought it on this trip for others to read. The author, Kefa Sempangi, began an orphanage and was a pastor during the brutality of Idi Amin's reign and genocide in the 70's and early 80's.  AND I JUST TALKED TO HIM ON THE PHONE.  Only in Uganda.  We pass a papyrus swamp on the road to Buloba where Idi Amin's soldiers would dump the murdered bodies of whole families.  The swamp was ideal because it hid the actuality of the genocide from the world. 

I told Patrick, the man who began Bridge Africa International (our contact group here in Uganda), that I had read the book and loved it and he said, "You want to talk to him?" ....Ummm, yes?  Wait... Really??? Oh my goodness.  So, being nervous and excited I got to talk to Kefa Sempangi, who told me that a man from California just came to Uganda for four months to write the script for a movie about Kefa's book.  Pretty cool, huh?  I JUST TALKED TO HIM ON THE PHONE.  And he apologized for not being able to come meet me in Kampala today.  He said he had visitors in town.  I don't think I could have handled anymore surprises today, so it was okay.  Although it would have been pretty awesome.  

The phone died mid-conversation.  This is Africa.  The power came back on during breakfast so we dashed to the toaster to make toast.  This is Africa.  A mosquito found its way under my net last night.  This is Africa.  We ate a chicken---we named her chick-fil-a---that was given to Amy by her sponsor-child's family.  This is Africa.  Our house mother, Miriam, demonstrated how she butchered it in the backyard and the chicken's reaction to it.  Too much information?  This is Africa.  You should know that it was yummy.  Chicken here is the equivalent of filet mignon at home.  It was quite a sacrificial and special gift, given by a family living in absolute poverty.  This is Africa.  This is Uganda.


the big nine

This is our fearless leader, Jonathan.  Jonathan is a banana-grams fiend, loves sarcasm and satin, has either a R&B song or a one-liner for every occasion, calls himself Jonah to the Africans, and sniffles when I am around him which makes me think that he is not-so-subtly implying that I am stinky.  Jonathan has been the best team leader any of us could ever hope for.  Thank you Jonathan!

Amy: our second-in-command.  Amy loves to win at word games (and she does), enjoys clever banter, sarcastic, has a heart for families, and once went on a scavenger hunt to find monkeys and got in big and serious trouble.  Amy has recently acquired a very live chicken which she must butcher so that we can eat it.  I am not even remotely kidding.

Casey: sweet and considerate girl, recent pre-K grad (Davis made me write that), a real team player, and number-games whiz.  Casey is also a ladder-folding pro, Davis’ substitute sister on the trip, and is working on being brave enough to try avocado.

Josh, has a thick New York accent, has a surprising work history, relocated his stomach to a different position in his body, and never took a shower until college. Josh’s hobby is collecting disposable cameras and is a game-aholic.

Dan: our go-to guy, Dan is the facts-man with many an interesting tale and knows every person in the country of Uganda (well maybe not everyone, but it seems like it because everyone we meet knows him).  Dan instigated the great and mysterious machete episode (more details later). …wait, speaking of Dan… where IS he?

RJ, Son of Dan: puts salt on everything, turns into the pied piper when he holds camera, ginger, hard-worker, and wears a Cyclops light on his head a lot.  RJ calls himself Richard to Africans, turned 16 years old in Uganda, ate an African birthday cake, and received a Uganda jersey.

Jennifer: our team mom.  Jennifer is a miracle worker who has a knack for appearing with the right meds at just the right time, has dropped contractions from her speech all together, dreams of being a boda-boda driver, and recently learned to dominate in spades.  Jennifer is generous with a sweet and good-natured spirit, loves avocados, and allows the rest of the group to have all the meat being served on the table (read: sweet and generous).

Davis, Son of Jennifer (written by April, duh):  king of the one-liners, screams like a banshee in his sleep, stands like a pretzel, eats everything in sight except fruits and vegetables, and loves kids.  Davis is an up-and-coming professional photographer and my BFF ever and ever and forever.  

April (written by Davis):  super great skin, has this kind of look that is somewhere in-between hippy and outdoorsy, laughs at all my jokes, has a great laugh, pretty, cool, best, fun, perfection at its best, great hair, sweetheart, great personality, my best friend forever, (my new facebook friend), and BFF, bff, BfF, bFf, BfF.

So there you have it.  Here is our whole team.  Better late than never, eh?  We took this picture today, right after we each rode on a boda-boda.  We flew on two wheels.  We popped a front wheel-y and a back wheel-y.  At the same time.  (Mom, if you are reading this, don't panic, I wasn't the one driving).  It appears that we may have gotten a little speck of dust on our faces.  I may have even yelled to Amy, "Eat my dust," as I passed her at a high-rate of motion on my boda-boda.  Amy, I didn't really mean that.  I was just caught up in the moment.  I'm sure it won't happen again.

wishing I could send some dust your way,
over and out from Africa with love,

where we sleep and eat some food

Here are some photos of the house in Kampala that we get to stay in.  It's amazing.  There are three bedrooms upstairs (girls in one, boys in the other two).  Most of the group spent late yesterday evening out on the upstairs balcony.  The weather is sooooo wonderful.  It's cool and breezy at night, which makes the balcony the hot spot.  Well, actually the cool spot.  But you know what I mean.

[the above photo was taken by DAVIS ROBINSON]

This is where I lay my head. Under a net. I kind of feel like a princess under a lace canopy. 

This is Miriam.  She is sort of like our house-mother.  She sleeps in the bedroom downstairs and watches over the palace.  I mean, place.  

This is what the spot beside the front door looks like: permanently cluttered with an assortment of (oftentimes smelly) footwear.

What we do at night:  play games.  In the dark.  Because the power is always out. Not to be deterred from our gaming revelry, we hang a battery-powered light on the chandelier in the dining room and play by flashlight.

And finally, here is one of the first photos I took in Uganda.  This is Eddie, climbing to the top of the van to stack our luggage (without bungie cords or tie-down straps) for the high-speed midnight ride to the house in Kampala.  

over and out from around the corner, through the woods, across the ocean, and down the street,