Hello from Rukungiri!
I arrived safely in Uganda on October 2 around 10pm after 30 hours of travel. Betty and her almost 5 year old daughter Ebenezer came to pick me up and we stayed that night in a hotel an hour away in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. The next day we took a 9.5 hour bus ride here to Rukungiri. After travelling all day, I was thrilled to finally be at our destination at 9 o’clock that night! I am so thankful that God protected us the entire trip (I’m serious, the busses can be REALLY scary, I don’t know how many times I prayed on that bus ride!) and that all my luggage, teaching supplies/books, and educational toys for the school made it here safely during the whole traveling ordeal.
Man, its beautiful here! The terrain is hilly with lots and lots of greenery, very jungle like in many places. As soon as we started driving to our hotel the night I arrived I was like “Wow, I really have missed Africa!” Uganda is very similar to Malawi in a lot of ways so it has been pretty easy to adjust. I’ve already had experience living without electricity, plumbing, I’m used to people pointing at me and shouting mzungu (white person), and I have had some practice going to the bathroom in a hole in the ground, so my Malawi experience has made settling in here fairly easy for me! The language here is unfamiliar but I want to try to hear it and understand as much as I can. I will be working on listening and practicing some greetings so at least when someone in town greets me in Runyankore I can respond—right now, the only word I know is “Agandi” which is like hi or how are you. It’s hard for me because as soon as someone starts talking to me in their language, every Chichewa phrase/word I know comes to mind, then I think of the greetings/responses I know in Spanish, then a flood of French conversations come to me—out of all that nothing works! I need to make space in my brain for some Runyankore greetings/conversation!
The home where I’m staying is considered in the village but it’s only about two miles from the city of Rukungiri. I was surprised that the city is so big, I was expecting it to be much smaller-the population is actually around 35,000-40,000! My host family, Betty, Ebenezer “Benny”, and Rehaboth “Boss”, have been amazing! Their desire to give me the absolute best and their sacrificial love is humbling to me; I’m learning a lot from these wonderful people! Betty and I are planning to start studying the Bible and doing devotions together during the week so I’m looking forward to that. The kids love to entertain me speaking and shouting long sentences to me in Runyankore and often the only word I understand is “Sharayah” which they say tons of times per story that they tell! If Betty is close by I’ll ask her to translate. They say the cutest things, like Boss was telling me how when he grows up and is bigger than me, he’s going to go buy a banana that reaches up to heaven! They also love to sing and dance: last night Benny and Boss were so busy singing and dancing for me that Boss said he didn’t want to eat any food for dinner, he just wanted to keep going! I could sit there for hours watching them-it’s adorable!!
Yesterday I worked on getting settled in and taking care of initial things I needed to do like go to town to buy a modem for my internet and to get a Ugandan sim card. We went to the school this morning and I worked with the children in the first class (nursery 1 which is ages 3-4) and then after break I taught in the next class (nursery 2 which is ages 5-6). As soon as I got there, a little boy who is probably 3 years old saw me for the first time just came straight up to me and gave me a hug! It was so cute meeting the children and spending time with them. At break they just wanted to hold my hands and arms, all 16 or so children that were there! After they spent a lot of time touching my arms and smiling at me I bent over so they could ALL touch my hair! They were all gathered around me running their hands thru my hair for a couple minutes-I don’t think they’d ever get tired of it!! We brought some of the wooden shape puzzles and some stencils with us this morning to work with the children; it was a lot of fun and they did great. They worked on shape sorting and English names of colors and shapes. On Monday I’ll bring my nail polish to paint the girl’s nails at break time and bring something else for the boys so they don’t get jealous! I’ll also be working this weekend planning things to teach them for this coming week.
Every Friday night around 8 o’clock the church does all night prayer meetings. The church members and even people from other churches come together (around 250 people I’ve been told) and they stand up and pray all night. Sometimes people will leave at 3am if they have work the next day but others will stay until around 6am then go home after. Some sleep, others just skip sleep altogether! This will be my first one I’ve ever done so I’m excited but not sure how long I’ll be able to last staying awake, ha we’ll have to see how it goes!
I’ve been having trouble getting my wireless internet registered (it won’t work until it is registered) so I’m at an internet café right now and this is my first time getting online since I’ve been here. I don’t think all my updates will be this long but I will try to keep updating at least once a week even if it’s brief. Please pray for me for wisdom when teaching the children and that I’ll learn the best way to communicate with them since they can kind of understand English but not speak very much. Also Betty said that about four of the children come from homes where they don’t know Jesus so pray that they will come to know Him as they go to this Christian school.
Thank you Jesus for all You’ve done for us and for the abundant life we have in You!