Here. A Post by Bethany (thanks for the tip, Amanda)

Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.

Well, I just sat down at a computer for the first time in almost a week and let me tell ya, I feel out of touch. I don’t know if that’s sad, or what it is, but it is true. As you have read previously, I am here in Uganda! I arrived late Friday night and the first thing that hit was…drum roll… the warmth. We walked down a set of stairs from our plane into the night air and the night air was warm! I knew this would be the case, but coming from Minnesota on an extremely windy day I was still shocked. It was as if my whole body was bracing itself for freezing cold and instead it was…perfect. While I stood in line to get my visa I changed from shoes to sandals, peeled off a long-sleeve shirt, rolled up my jeans and gave a heavy sigh. Ah, warmth (can you tell I’m excited about that?).

So it is only days until Christmas and I have to admit I am still a little too distracted to realize it! There are reminders here and there that tell us it is the Christmas season. For instance, at the mall in Kampala where there are little Christmas trees in every store. And last night at an outdoor pub, the live band that was playing classics like the Eagles and Bryan Adams and suddenly went into a ruckus version of Joy to the World. But I have to say it was strange sitting outside under the stars in a t-shirt humming along to a rock version of a Christmas carol.

So far I have spent a lot of time trying to soak in the sites, sounds, smells, colors, people, you name it. Uganda is beautiful. Palm trees, very green, lots of animals I have never seen, I even saw a monkey sitting on top of a gate this morning! And the people are lovely. I have mentioned a few times that I feel very loud most of the time. The people I have met speak very softly and after a few minutes interacting with them I realize I am shouting compared to their tone…oops.

I spent the four days before Brian arrived with his coworkers from ARC. Great women. We all stayed at the ARC guest house here in Kampala. These ladies have completely taken care of me in every way. They helped me exchange my cash, they have driven me everywhere I needed to go and they have all given me great advice about living in South Sudan. They are all veterans of working in the field and I have felt extremely grateful to have their guidance in my first days here.

Then Brian arrived. I expected to see a HUGE beard and a lot of hair. One of the ARC vice presidents spent a few days with him in Yei and told me all he could think to call him was Grizzly Adams. But to my surprise he had trimmed his beard and shaved his head! Good boy.

Brian and I have had the pleasure of dog-sitting for the ARC country director of Uganda. He and his wife have a BEAUTIFUL home in the hills of Kampala and Brian has greatly enjoyed having a kitchen available to him again. Their home is filled with African art from both the west and the east. It’s like a museum. Not to mention the view of the city is phenomenal. So we have been hanging out, Brian is trying his best to unwind from an intense 2 1/2 months in Yei and we’re getting our bearings as a couple on this continent.

Our Christmas plans are different from any I have ever had, but I am VERY excited about them. We are going to Murchison Falls which is a little north west of Kampala. Apparently the falls are incredibly beautiful and we will also be doing a wildlife tour as well! Christmas day some other ARC staff will be coming together for a Christmas dinner that Brian has offered to cook (you can imagine how excited he is). The plans are to eat a lot, listen to Christmas music and watch the movie Elf. It should be a good time.

May all of you, our friends and family, be filled with joy and peace during this holiday season. We miss and love you all.

Merry Christmas!

Bethany

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I know I said I wouldnt…

but I need to post again (be sure to read the two below as they are very recent as well)…

Today I found myself sitting, plowing through the book I am currently reading (Acts of Faith, Phillip Caputo…it is about Sudan, Humanitarian Aid, etc.) when I began to hear strange noises over my head.  The tin roof was alive with tiny impacts which came every couple of minutes, seemingly from nowhere.  My curiosity piqued, I stepped outside to see what was causing the tumult overhead, but I could spot nothing to explain what was happening!  So I stood there with my headphones on (turned low enough to hear the hollow tin sound) and then I heard it behind me…then to my side, then to my other side…I was so confused…determined…patient…

Then I saw it…the Acacia trees…their pods…exploding!  Their 6 to 10 inch seed pods, brown, hard as rock, were different than they had been…the straight pods had been told by nature that it was time to start twisting and contorting their forms in order to increase their inner tension, ultimately to make their seems burst with the seeds within.  I was mesmerized.  I sat staring at the tree, my headphones now in my pocket, flinching as the explosions came unpredictably.  As I watched, listened, I noticed other similar noises all around…the compound was alive with the birth of Acacia.  Seeds contorting and splitting with such force they broke small branches, tumbling to the ground…seeds hitting walls, tin roofs, brick pathway, other seeds, grass.  It was beautiful…in the sunset as clear as any I have seen, with the piercing sun in the background, the seeds were blowing my mind.  Some managed to hit objects over 18 yards away with a force that told you the seed could have, would have, and should have gone further.

No moral…no reflection…just beauty.

B

Bethany is almost here, so it is time to tell the truth…

Bethany is currently en route to Uganda…in fact, she is probably passing over Sudan as we speak.  Given that knowledge, it is time to talk about some things that I haven’t spoken to her about for fear that she may decide to not come to Sudan.  She will probably, much to her chagrin, read this in the next days and wonder why she came to East Africa, but it is time to be honest.

In the last weeks I have dealt with snakes,  and Ebola.  Seriously.  Earlier this week we found a 5 foot long snake by our toilets…it was identified as a cobra.  I’m not kidding.  They killed it.  The next day I walked into a room to grab a bottle of water and I was confronted by a green mamba.  WHAT?!  2 snakes…2 days…both deadly.  I mean, honestly, I knew they existed out here, but they have been in my face, taunting me with their knowledge that one strike would send me reeling.  Its funny though, because my compound guards are fearless.   They come running when I call, they grab a large stick, and they carefully, slowly aim…the strike with lightning precision and BAM!!! snake has a broken back and they throw it into a fire somewhere…wow.  So needless to say, when I go to use the restroom in the grass behind my tukul at night I bring 10 flashlights and a gun now.

Ebola…its one of those things you hear about, but you honestly never think you will face.  I mean, I knew it was from central/eastern Africa, but I thought it was gone.  3 weeks ago cases were identified in Western Uganda, and now all of East Africa is in an uproar.  I was at an emergency meeting where they spoke about how this outbreak isn’t that bad because it only kills 25% of all victims…Im sorry…you are saying it isnt bad because only 25% die?!  Im sure thats worse than anythign that exists on the planet right now.  But dont worry…I wont touch any dead bodies or drink any fresh blood, so I should be fine.

Its funny, because I know Bethany knows what she is getting into, but I still want to protect her from it.  My wonderful wife lands in 1 hour…she embarks into Africa for her first time.  In one hour she will be in a taxi for an hour, driving on the worst road she has ever encountered, swerving in and out of traffic, avoiding pedestrians that seemingly emerge from the dust and gravel of the road.  She will arrive at the guest house we have in Kampala with her knuckles white from the grip on the dash of the car, wondering “What just happened?!”  But soon after, she will realize where she is and what is ahead of her and she will be glad.

Bethany achieved her dreams at 25.  Can you believe that?!  She got her coffee shop, her intimate community, and the most amazing friends she has had.  She is not yet 26 and she has to look for new adventures to fulfill her sense of purpose because she has accomplished what she set out to do.  Amazing, eh?  Well, now she will be here…a new world full of scary things, dangerous events, and catastrophic disease.  But this world is also so vibrant, so full of hope, and her presence is vital, whether she knows it or not.  I mean, even with snakes and Ebola, we are safer than if we were back in Omaha at the mall I went to every Sunday where a ton of people got shot last week, and we are safer than when we stayed at the YWAM base in Denver where 2 young kids were killed last week as well.  Even with the dangers around us, we are safe.

Friends…Family…dont worry about us because of the dangers here!  Be happy for us, because Bethany and I are a married couple once more, and no snakes…no virus…no war…no thieves…NOTHING can take that away from us.

I cannot wait to see my bride.  4 more days till I see her…I wonder how much she has changed in the last 2.5 months.  What has she had to do with?  What has she realized about herself and what has she learned?  Will she resent any of my new habits or the way I have changed the way I speak so that the Sudanese can understand me better?  Will she tire of my droning about work and will my scruffy beard and the bags under my eyes make her look at me worriedly?  Will I find the changes she has faced hard to cope with?  Will I be over-whelemed with guilt upon hearing how much she gave up to be here?  Im just not sure…it is strange…the way we have lived the last months…the last year…so strange.  Regardless of the questions I cannot wait to see her…know she is there…remember what a blessing in my life she is.

Thank you all for your support…thank you for sending Bethany off so well…We are thankful.  With this post I go into silence for the next 4 days as I wait to see the one who keeps me sane and keeps me from being too kurbisish.  ha.

B

Anticipation

Here I am!  I am finally emerging from my cocoon of silence to send a warm greeting to all the friends and family that are checking for updates!  I have not been quiet from boredom or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, from being overwhelmed.  Rather, I have said very little due to the anticipation of change that I am feeling deep down in my soul!  Bethany arrives one week from tomorrow which means my life suddenly becomes betterified (thats right, i just made that word up).  Time apart is hard…for those of you that don’t realize, Bethany and I have now spent five months of the last nine apart, and both of us are thinking it is getting a little old!  I feel that Bethany put it so well when she told a friend that she is looking forward to getting out here so that she can “be married again”.

Bethany’s comment has a lot of validity.  This time apart is not really marriage…it is love and patience, but it is like the pause button has been pushed…right now we feel like the finger of time is making its move to push play again so that the tunes can keep coming!

I will meet Bethany in Kampala for my R&R…or as Bethany’s genius of an uncle called it, our “Conjugal visit with our culture.”  We will spend some time in a place called Murchison Falls, seeing some beautiful wildlife and doing some trekking in NW Uganda, as well as possibly doing some white water rafting at the convergence of the Nile in Jinja (This is actually the first time Bethany will have heard this bit of news!).

At any rate, things are going well here.  Even though my boss has now left, I am optimistic that I will still love what I am doing and succeed regardless, so please do not worry!

Thats all for now…I probably wont write again until I am with Bethany…I just don’t have the strength/focus to do anything but work and sleep until I see her again!

hugs all around!

B