Thursday, January 31, 2008

home life

Today at 3ish pm i arrived in Edmonton. I just recieved a phone call that i left my passport at the airport so i get to make the 50 minute drive tomorrow to go pick it up! YEAH. Basically the flights were uneventful although i did think the plane was going to crash at many points from London to Edmonton due to wicked turbulence. PTL that never happened! I burst into tears when i saw my parents because i was heartbroken that Uganda was over.

A more detailed update is coming but i thought i'd add some photos for your enojyment!
until next time...




Me and Bethany in Bukaya with Mama Rukia`s family.













Our favorite Congolese family ever. Raoul and his sisters from left to right, Deborah, Linda, Marie and Natalie. Raoul`s desire is to be a pastor and do village ministry in Congo again one day. He is an incredible person and we love the Mugosa family SO SO SO SO MUCH!








Ronnie Kiryowa, Me and Andrew Oundo at Entebbe Airport...so sad.













Rachel, Nina, Amy David Bethany, Melody and Michelle. The 6 of us girls learned a dance choreographed by Melody for David`s going away. It was a hit!













At David`s going away party. Left to Right, Philip, Nina, Bethany, Me (amy) and Ruth












Melody, Rachel, Me, Nina and Ruth at our last bible study.














Bethany Andrew and Amy












Bethany, Florence (Our African Queen) and Me















Amy Michael Mark and Bethany














Yeah!! We made it!










A church in Kigali where 2000 Tutsi`s fled from the MRND. The RPF got a tip that they were there and the MRND was going to kill them and the RPF got them out safely.













The beautiful Rwandan country side












At the hotel where Hotel Rwanda happened.














We were pretty pumped!! Thanks Anne Marie!













One section of Mass graves at Gisozi Genocide Memorial in Kigali Rwanda.




















ADORABLE Brian!

















The best dog in all of Uganda and my best non human friend in the whole world. Brownie Bear.

Monday, January 28, 2008

CUTEST PHONE CALL EVER IN LIFE

Yesturday evening, as me and our dog brownie where having a photo shoot, Erin Littleton called and gave us a little update on Mary Cameron and JAckson and we GOT TO TALK TO THEM ON THE PHONE!!! it was sooooooo cool to hear their little ugandan voices all the way over in America.

We asked MC where she was and she said "I'm at america" and Jackson told us he was making rice and beans but would make us pizza and noodles if we wanted. It was the cutest thing ever. We are planning a trip to visit them this spring or summer. If you haven't checked out Erin's blog, you need too because its the best thing on the internet and i check it every day to see how the kids are doing. They have the cutest photos of MC and Jackson all decked out for a basketball game (i think!) and an excellent story about dog footprints and poop.
www.thelittletonfamily.blogspot.com

trust me- you'll be hooked!

until next time...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rwanda

So were back from Rwanda! Leaving I have to say I dont think we really knew what to expect. At the last minute we decided to call Timothy, a friend who is a journalist in Kigali, to see if he could meet us and help us find our way around. Good thing we did, I dont know how we would have managed without him!

So monday morning we were on the internet googling all of the things we wanted to do in Kigali (the capital of Rwanda) and looking at the website for the Hotel des Mille Collines (the hotel from Hotel Rwanda the movie). were super expensive and we decided it would be best to just stay in a cheap guest house. As we were discussing, Amy gets a phone call from the lovely and wonderful Momma King telling us that her lovely and wonderful work friends have donated the money for us to stay in the Mille Collines!!! Needless to say we were ECSTATIC!

We left for Kampala in the afternoon to go catch the Jaguar night bus to Kigali. We were hoping to catch the 1am bus but unfortunately for us it was full and we had to wait for the 3am. We spent the evening with my old pal Justin who I havent seen in like 4 years and is randomly in Kampala studying. Then we watched I am Legend in the theater (SO SCARY!) and then headed to the bus station for a long cold 4 hour wait outside for the bus. Our seats were really small but we arrived in Kigali excited though somehow tired! We taxied to our hotel and Timothy came and met us and showed us around the city.

FYI This is going to be a really long blog.

Okay I just have to describe how beautiful Rwanda is. Breathtaking. For sure the most beautiful place I've ever been, and you'll be hard pressed to get me to admit that anywhere is more beautiful than Victoria. Rwanda is called the Switzerland of Africa because it is all green rolling hills. The road from the border of Uganda to Kigali winds all through the mountains and you are always on one side looking far down into the valley. The roads were so windy that we joked that if you could drive from the border in a straight line to Kigali it would probably take about 15 minutes, but because the roads wind so much it took 2 hours!

We expected the city of Kigali to be something like Kampala but it couldn't have been more different! EVERYTHING was clean, there was no dust, no traffic, no bodas weaving maniacally through the traffic. There was order and safety regulations and trash cans! All things that are not typical in Kampala. Actually every last saturday of the month all citizens have to help clean the city...no joke.

We had a wonderful night in the Mille Collines and took full advantage of the room service and complimentary breakfast (yum). The next day we got up early, shopped for like 3 hours in the craft stores, and then met up with Timothy to go to the Gisozi Genocide Memorial. There are several memorials around Kigali, but after visiting one we definitely did not feel compelled to visit others.

This is so hard to write about and explain. The genocide happened 14 years ago in Rwanda, and they have come a long way since in terms of infrastructure and stability. The city is amazing. But I don't think that the genocide is really very far from anyones mind. The first week in April is the memorial week and every year people relive the horrors and remember the lost. It seemed to us like a tradition like that would make it hard for people to move on, but I think the bottom line is that there is no good way to cope after a genocide, you just do what you can.

In 1994 one million people were slaughtered in Rwanda. A country with two tribes that once functioned perfectly with one language and one history, was divided by european colonizers and pitted against each other. 40 years of ethnic strife evolved into genocide, and a million (plus!) people lost their lives as a result. The memorial was a beautiful remembrance of the history of the tragedy, the cost of international indifference, and the stories of those who died. After walking though a long hallway that tells the story, we passed through rooms full of pictures brought in by survivors of family members who were murdered. There were probably aroujd 1200 photos that people had brought in and clipped to the walls and every day people bring more. These are sometimes the only photos people have of their family members and friends. We witnessed a man sitting, cradling a picture of a woman that he pulled from the wall, crying and grieving. The next room was dark with glass cases lining the walls. IN each case there were bones. 4 cases were full of skulls, many with holes in them, whole sides missing, and some in peices. It was awful to imagine the force that must have been used to create such injuries. 2 cases were full of femur bones from adults and children. There were hundreds. The last room had clothes hung up behind glass that had been taken from people in mass graves. There was s childs size I LOVE OTTAWA tee shirt and a superman sheet. Playing on a big tv screen were survivors talking about forgivness and if they could in fact, forgive the people who did this. ONe woman talked of how she watched her sisters be beaten and thrown to the bottom of an outhouse, already piled 10 bodies deep and then rocks were thrown down on them until they died. She said she didnt know if shed ever be able to forgive. Amy kept thinking of her neice and nephew as she walked through the room with the stories of dead children. The photos had a plaque underneath the photo that had info like the childs favorite food, favorite sport, favorite school subject then it said how they were murdered. One 9 month old was hacked to death in his mothers arms and a 2 year old girl was smashed against a wall. There was even a small glass case with the chain that was to chain 4 brothers together as they were burned alive.

The end of the center consisted of information about other genocides that have happened in the world, such as Namibia, the Holocaust, Armenia, Camodia and several others. This was followed by information on genocide in general and organizations that have set out to prevent it.

As we walked outside, we looked over the balcony onto rows of mass graves. One of the mass graves was not sealed yet and you could see where new coffins lay, covered in white and pruple cloth. They center said that as many as 30 people could fit in one coffin because of the brutal way people were killed. People around the country are still - 14 years later!!- finding parts of bodies and random bones as they cultivate fields, dig foundations and just go about daily life. AS a result, about 4 new mass graves were being dug at the memorial site to house these. They are surrounded by gardens and we walked through the gardens past what must have been thousands of bodies and fragments of bodies all buried in mass graves. Needless to say we left the memorial very sober and with a lot of questions. It was strange because the whole time we felt like just bawling but somehow we couldn't, they just weren't our tears to cry. It almost would have felt disrespectful to sit and watch videos of survivors bravely telling of the horrors they saw and then cry, as if we have anything to cry about.

We left early the next morning after a fun night hanging out with Timothy and his family and traveled back to dusty Kampala. We had a really good time in Kigali but it was good to be back in Jinja. I guess we came away from our trip with a newfound appreciation for Rwandans and their strength and courage, and also a bit of shame at what white people have done (or not done) in the world. It was so frustrating to be in the memorial and be able to clearly see all the info that had been laid out for the west to do something about the genocide, even before the killings happened, and yet because of beauracracy, red tape, and pride, we say by the tv and watched the news show their 30 second blip on ethnic strife in Rwanda, sandwiched between the sports and the weather.

Its hard to believe that we stayed in a hotel that had once housed thousands of tutsis from crazed militia men waiting with machetes outside the gates to kill them because 50 years prior, colonoizers had separated the country based on the amount of cows one had. Unfortunately for the Tutsis, having less than 10 cows would one day get them killed.

Amy leaves on wednesday at 4;20 and get home thursday at 240. WE are both excited to go home but heartbroken to leave our friends. We said goodbye to the church yesturday and Amy cried as the elders came and prayed for us as the congregation stretched our their hands and joined in prayer as well. AFter church we went to our friends house and hung out with 6 of our friends and spent 4 hours doing karoke. It was a blast. WE are definately going to miss the babies and espeically george and soph but the friendships we have made are one a whole nother level and will make it that much harder to leave. Tomorrow night is our last bible study and im sure it will be full of tears. The one thing everyone says after we say we are going home is, but your going to come back soon, not so? One day soon.

Until next time....

Monday, January 21, 2008

SUPER QUICK UPDATE

Hi everyone!
Just wanted to say a super quick update, so quick in fact im putting it in point form to save time!
  1. We are coming home so soon! Amy in 9 days and I leave two weeks today. We are sad to leave, but so excited to see our families and everyone.
  2. Were going to Rwanda! Right now. For two days. Were going to visit the genocide museums and see the Hotel Mille Collines (the one from Hotel Rwanda the movie), and hopefully go see some volcanoes.
  3. We would appreciate your prayers in our last few days here that it wouldnt be too hard to leave our babies and our friends...were a little nervous about leaving them and are wishing we could sneak sophie and george home with us.
  4. Okay thats all! Love you all!
  5. Until next time..

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some favorite photos and a short update

Hi Everyone! We've been very bad at blogging but with only 13 days left for amy and 17 for bethany, we are spending as much time away from the internet as possible. Today our friend Tillas from Nairobi arrived for a little visit. His school started last week but he said that it was still too dangerous and he didnt want to risk it. Also our friend Lawrence who is from the kamba tribe in kenya, arrived yesturday after being away for several weeks. His took an Akamba bus from Nairobi to Jinja (the same one me and beth took to nairobi many months ago) and the bus had to have a military escort because now that Kibaki has elected a kamba vice president (or something like that, don't quote me) the kamba tribe is now being targeted with violence. Needless to say we are so thankful both Tillas and Lawrence have returned safely and we are praying for Kenya daily over here.

My baby Sophia's 4th birthday was yesturday. Although shes 4, shes a shrimp and wore my neice Ava's 2T birthday dress. I bought her a really cute beaded necklace which she was very excited about. A bunch of us volunteers took Amberly, Teenie Beanie, Melody, Anna and Steffi to lunch at the source cafe and Danyne was very kind and let us take the van! She hung out with me all day and we had a great time. She even came to fellowship where George and Ken from our favorite group here, Sauti, lead worship. It was AWESOME and they sang my new favorite song from Zimbabwe. Everyone was so pumped and it was so powerful. Hope talked about cultural lies and it was so amazing too. Everyone thought that was the best fellowship yet! Hope is a gifted speaker, espeically to university aged people. Soph slept over and was so kind to wake up at 6am dragging her little fingers through my knotted hair! So cute, i love that girl!

In sad sad sad news, but good good good at the same time, our ugandan best friend, David, left for school in london england on monday. We went to the airport with David, his mom and dad, and our other 2 friends steve and richard. It was so bad. we both cried a few tears but last night, our friend Emma brought over David's new phone number in London and tonight we are going to the calling center to ring him up! We're also planning a summer reunion so that gives us something to look forward too.

Rainy season started yesturday in fine fashion with a nice long heavy downpour and several thunderstorms. Its SUCH nice relief from the overwhelming heat we've had for the last 2 months. Before the rain yesturday, it litterally hadn't rained a drop in 2 or 3 months. Bethany had a nice bath in the pool today as we had no water yet again. good times!

We are both beginning to get VERY excited to come home, particularly for new clothes :), but also to see our families. We are going to be heartbroken to leave as we've made a really nice life for ourselves these ends.

Enjoy the photos, until next time...




This is what it looks like every afternoon now.

















our favorite photo from Kikondo village.
















BEth and I at STAO Mafubira hanging out!
















Christopher's ADORABLE smile.

www.jesusbabies.blogspot.com











Baby Katie Rae or Katie Bug.















Big fatty daniel. He used to be sooo grossly skinny but not anymore!

















Nicole. She is one half of the twins we got a few weeks ago. She is 13 months old and when we got her she weighed 10 pounds.






















Mama Teenie Beanie.













Smellody, melly or melode as we like to call her. Her favorite saying is "auntie emmy (or auntie feffany), auntie arielle is where?"










Georgie porgie and Asherife.

Friday, January 4, 2008

"we will never forget you"


That is what little Kijambo said to Bethany and I in the car today as we were driving 6 STAO kids home from a day in town.

Yesterday Bethany and I distributed 30 basins of towels, sweeties, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and sandles. The kids were all so happy and thrilled that they each had something of their very own, with their name on it even! Last week we were told that there were 45 kids at STAO and then we asked for a list of the kids with ages, sizes and names but that wasn't going to happen so we wrote down the names of the 45 kids plus an extra random 15 and when we got to stao to distribute, children appeared from the woodwork and there was another 15 or 20 who needed bins. So we are making more and bringing them early next week.

This morning bethany and i drove to STAO and picked up 6 kids to bring to the international clinic for treatment of some nasty infections. Only 2 of the kids had ever been to Jinja Town and were thrilled at all there was to see! Marion is about 4 or 5, we dont actually know and she came to town and spent the whole day with no shoes. When we got to the hospital the kids took their shoes off at the door. It was pretty cute but heartbreaking because they thought the hospital was so beautiful, they should take their shoes off. Marion peed her dress so we put her in a HUGE men's teeshirt that she wore as a dress till we could get her something else to put on. The kids got HIV tests and all came back negative.

After the hospital we piled the 8 of us in the car and drove to main st. where we ate chicken and chips at source cafe. Each kid got a big glass of milk but they were all much more intersted in the soda.

After they had finished eating the little girls knelt on the floor and thanked us. It was so sad that they were overwhelmed with a plate of food that wasnt posho and beans.

Then it was off to our house for Charlottes Web and a good bath. The kids wanted to check out our compound and as they rounded the back, they all started chattering in Luganda and Kijambo asked me "auntie- that is what?", referring to the swimming pool. I told him it was like a big bathtub full of water and you could swim in it. Shamimu got on the ladder and climbed down it till she was halfway in, getting herself soaking wet in the process and loving it the whole time! they all started splashing water on themselves and cleaning their heads and faces, like they would in the shower. It was precious. After that we bathed the kids, put them in new clean clothes (denise got a pair of my neice ava's old shorts for 9-12mth olds, shes about 4) and loaded everyone back into the car.

On the way back to the village, Kijambo said that he did not want to return, and they all wanted to stay with me and bethany and live at our house. How do you explain to a 12 year old boy why he can't live with us? How do you explain the extreme difference in standards of living?

After we left the kids at STAO we drove home with our hearts heavy and our minds reeling. We love it here, we love every kid we've met, dirty, sick and smelly as they may be. But our hearts are sore from breaking daily and its time for a break.

We're planning a short 3 day trip to Rwanda to see the 1994 genocide memorials. It wont be that much of a break because we're going to be going to 2 churches where in one- a thousand people were slaughtered with machetes and then left, in their exact same positions for 13 years. They are piles of bones and clothes now and it is said to be very disturbing and haunting, but something we must see. Thats the plan so far.










Mariam with her basin in the girls room














Fatuma with her sweetie!

















the outside of the main building in STAO.














Fatuma's gross skin infection on her head, with pus coming from the wounds. You can't really see it that well but it looked angry and sore.










3 or 4 year old Marion's infected ear and body rash.













Maria and Denise enjoying their chocolate chip cookies and milk!













Shamimu with the thumbs up,
Maria with the mango
Fatuma with her face covered
Kijambo in the washington shirt
Denise in the blue polo
Marion in the overalls







Until Next Time!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shout-outs and Shoot-outs


So what happens in a little town like Jinja on the first day of 2008?? Why a rocking christian music concert of course! As most of you probably don't know, we have a favorite band here in Uganda called Sauti. (pronounced Sa-woo-tee) Our friends here know how much we love them, and how every time they are in town or near town, we go to the concert. Last night was no different. We headed over to town hall with a bunch of our friends for a concert that this dancing group called God's Army was putting on. They are INCREDIBLE dancers and we love seeing them as well. The concert got off to a slow start, but we kept hanging in there knowing Sauti was coming up.

After about 2 hours of boredom, Sauti takes the stage, and we are as enthralled as ever. So much so, we decided we just had to go after, introduce ourselves, and find out how we can get a copy of their cd to bring back to canada! We met them and they were so nice and we exchanged "contacts" so that we can get a cd later. When they came back on for their second set they made our WEEK with a shout out before our favourite song..."This one goes out to Amy and Bethany!" So of course we had to stand up and dance and being the only white people in a group of 600, I think we may have stood out juuuuuust a little! Needless to say it was the best night. Ever.

Okay on a more serious note, we want to give you a quick update on whats going on in Kenya right now. On december 27th there was a presidential election. There was a lot of controversy over the election and accusations of a lack of transparency, fraud, and vote rigging. The new president, Mwai Kibaki, was sworn in less than an hour after the election results were posted, and there has been chaos ever since. Already 100,000 people have had to evacuate or flee their homes because of the violence, and the death toll has risen to 300; including 50 people seeking shelter in a church who were burned to death.

Just to put this in perspective: Kenya is one of the most stable countries in Africa. It has the biggest economy in East Africa, and black tea stocks (their biggest export) have already fallen 5%. Being in Nairobi feels exactly like being in Vancouver or Toronto...its a huge city with skyscrapers, nice cars, wealthy buisness-people, movie theaters, and restaurants. This is a really big deal for all of East Africa. Uganda gets all their petrol from Kenya and since the election, violence, and subsequent closing of the border, fuel prices have risen from 2500 shillings per litre to 8000 shillings per litre...about $4.85 per litre!! Needless to say we are doing a lot of walking...

The scariest part of all this is that the violence is exposing ethnic tensions, in particular between the Kikuyu, Kibaki's tribe, and the Luo, Odinga's tribe. In case that doesn't mean anything to you, its comparable to the Hutu and Tutsi tribes of Rwandan genocide 15 years ago.

We just wanted you to know whats going on over in our neck of the woods, we are totally safe don't worry, but please just be in prayer for Kenya. Bloomburg.com has good articles if you want to learn more.

Until next time...