Thursday, May 19, 2005

Day 1 Uganda: Is this a dream?

Words cannot describe today. We had no idea what we were about to experience. We made it through all of our flight connections with no problems and arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda exhausted but fine at 9:00 this morning. (Time is just two hours ahead of London.) All of our luggage even made it. We were pretty panicked about this, because though we had packed all of our essentials and a change of clothes in our day pack, my luggage was entirely filled with gifts for the children. We realized that if our luggage didn't make it, we would have nothing to give Joyce for sure, whom we were visiting today.

CCF has taken great care of us. They picked us up at the airport and dropped us by our hotel (which they had booked) for a bath before we left for our visit. The drive into Kampala from the airport was amazing--green, tropical, beautiful, and a scene of abject poverty. Kampala itself is less poor and more modern, but the craziest city you've ever visited. We were caught in a traffic jam with cars literally going every different direction--and this is apparently normal! And the people--the friendliest I've ever met.

Before we left For Joyc'es village, They took us to the CCF Uganda office. We didn'
t understand why. Well, they took us around and introduced us to every person there, including the national director who looks just like Sydney Poitier. Each person sat down and talked with us and thanked us for our sponsorship. They were so kind! Then, the director invited us to lunch with him and his managers! Even our driver and escort did not attend this lunch. It was wonderful--we had interesting discussions about politics and economics in Uganda. But apparently the director's impromptu invitation messed up our schedule because we were supposed to eat lunch in the village and were a couple hours late. It ended up being dinner.

We first were taken to the project headquarters for Joyce's particular project, where the director there told us all about Joyce and the projects they're doing. This was an hour drive outside Kampala. Then they took us to her village to meet her and see her home and family. That is all they told us. We drove a few more kilometers up some awful dirt roads, and suddenly around one corner was an entire village of 200 people dressed in their finest singing and dancing to welcome our arrival! It was overwhelming! We couldn't speak. They had planned a whole program for the whole day for us. Children sung and danced, the town elder gave a speech, and the headteacher of the school gave a speech. They had built a shelter just to host us in. They didn't speak English for the most part, but Nelson the project director translated. Joyce's father (we sort of sponsor the whole family through her) showed us all around his farm, his crops, cattle the mosquito nets over the beds, and every little thing that CCF has given them to change their lives. Then Nelson and the headmaster, a very distinguised older man dressedin his best suit in the sweltering heat, showed us the newly completed school building. The whole village literally followed us wherever we went. Then they all waited outside Joyce's house while we ate the delicious food they had prepared. Joyce was quite shy and afraid, only 5, but I think she liked the doll we brought. We gave our gifts which had felt like a lot when we packed, but when we saw the whole village, all so kind and polite and happy to see us and dressed in rags, we so wished we had brought so much more. We should have brought all the clothes of Jasper's and Ruby's that we just got rid of. We easily could have. They kept thanking us for all we had done, and we felt so undeserving, knowing we had done nothing more than send a check every month and write letters. But I guess they were thanking us on behalf of all sponsors because the rest never visit. You WILL NOT BELIEVE IT until you see the videos we took. What an amazing experience no tourist gets! Thanks to Sara and Dave for making it possible! (By the way, they thought we were bringing our children and were very disappointed we didn't.) Love, Em and STeve


swensensays said...

Wow! What an experience, guys! I'm blown away just through your experience. You will never forget this and the stories you bring back will influence your kids lives and their kids lives. We are so happy for you. Keep a journal. And relish in not having the tourist experience--so wonderful. Jasper and Ruby miss you so much. When Ruby gets tired she cries for "Ma Ma." When Jasper gets upset it is because he misses you so much too. I'll read your experience to Jasper. Love you guys. Sara

swensensays said...

Wow! What experiences you are having!!!

Thanks for writing about what you’re doing. We’ll tell Mom and Maola about your adventures when we see them tomorrow. We hope you are writing these experiences so you won’t forget them. You may need to transcribe them into your journal when you return. Maybe your e-mail or blog messages will be summaries of these great experiences.

Today, Virginia went with Amber and her mother, Caroline, to shop for a stroller and car seat. Amber is having a baby shower on Tuesday and Caroline flew down to attend.

This evening Virginia and I went to two wedding receptions: Darren Whittaker is married again. His bride appeared to be confident and in-charge. She is nice looking and was friendly. We had a short visit with Brad and Shirley before we headed to the second reception.

We drove to the west side of Utah Lake where there are large subdivisions of homes. The club house at the golf course was the setting for the reception for Brooke Watts, the daughter of Steve and Beckie Watts. We saw several ward members as well as those who previously lived in the ward. We had a nice visit with Karl and Brenda Wesson.

We love you and continue to pray for your success and safety.


Karl and Virginia
Saturday, 05-21-05

(Actually it is Sunday morning - after midnight - and we can’t sleep-in since our church block is first.)