Blog Archive

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Tuesday
Jan272009

Yellow Yolks!!

So if you have been keeping up with our blog, you already know that eggs yolks here are white. However, much to my surprise I just found organic eggs that are advertising a yellow yolk! (6 eggs with white yolks cost around $0.85; 6 eggs with yellow yolks cost around $1.10) We haven't tried them yet, but I'm hoping they're yummy!  -Krista

Sunday
Jan252009

Learning How to Cook

Before arriving, both Shauen and I were fairly confident in our cooking abilities. Now, we are happy if we make something and it turns out! You can find most things here (I found a little bag of parmesan cheese yesterday!), but while things are the same, they are at the same time different. We buy our milk in a litre bag and it almost tastes like the milk I am used to. Egg yolks are white, making it slightly difficult to tell if you have beat your eggs enough when making scrambled eggs. Both Shauen and I, at separate times, bought a bag of what we thought were beans, but in actuality were raw peanuts. The only way the oatmeal I made was edible was by adding so much sugar and cinnamon it was practically dessert! (How can you mess up oatmeal? I still don't know but somehow it happened!) However, we have learned that we are masters at spaghetti and tuna fish sandwiches. I am also learning that it is hard to break the habit of recycling (there is no recycling program here). So I dutifully rinse out the yogurt container and tuna can and put them in the rack to dry before, full of guilt, I throw them away. Until we are accustomed to everything, each meal is a small adventure and we are most grateful for those times we succeed!  -Krista

Saturday
Jan102009

Mosquitoes and Climate

It's the middle of a dry season right now in Kampala which I understand means that it rains about once a week.   This week's rain came a few mornings ago early in the morning - it poured with thunder and everything.  Strangely enough, it didn't seem to wash away much of the red dust.  It's been very pleasant as far as temperature and humidity go.  It's warm during the day but only in the 80's.  At night the temperature cools off nicely.  We pretty much have all the windows in the house open all the time - and there are lots of windows.  Even if we closed them, every window has about a foot-tall opening above it with a screen and  louvers in open position that can't be closed.  So there is always air movement and the sound of whatever may be outside at the moment - your neighbors talking, the morning call to prayer from the mosque down the street, singing, or the housekeepers washing the cars in the morning.  This morning we have had a very thick fog - so thick that our screens are covered with condensing water.   The glass windows don't have any water on them because it's the same temperature inside and out but apparently the screen provides just enough surface area for the fog to condense.  We haven't seen (or rather, heard) too many mosquitoes yet either.  I hear about one each night so I think we will pick up some mosquito netting next time we're in town.  I don't know if that's because of the season or if that's how it will be in Kampala year-round.  So far we've been here six days and I have to agree with Winston Churchill that Uganda may just be the Pearl of Africa.  -Shauen

Friday
Jan092009

Egg Yolks

What color is the yolk of an egg?  That's what I thought too.  This morning for breakfast Michelle made hard-boiled eggs.  Looked like a hard-boiled egg from the outside.  When I cut into it it was white.  All the way through.  A white yolk.  Perfectly normal, I'm assured.  Just not expected.  It tasted good.  -Shauen

Friday
Jan092009

Jet Lag

Yes. We have jet lag.  I fell asleep around 8pm about ten seconds after my head hit the pillow and I woke up at 2:30am with no hope of falling back asleep.  It's going to be a long day.  -Shauen

Friday
Jan092009

Appliances

Part of furnishing our home means buying some of the major appliances we need - like a refrigerator, a washing machine, and an iron (anything that is dried outside must be ironed to kill the mango-fly larvae that may have been laid on the clothes as they dry).  Such items are expensive - mostly imported from South Africa by truck I think and who knows where they may have come from before arriving in South Africa.  I think our fridge is Italian.  Regardless of where they come from, none of them seem to come from Uganda or Britain.  So none of the electrical plugs are the right ones!  They are all the right voltage but it is widely accepted that anything you buy that you have to plug in will not have the right plug.  The store is supposed to hand you a plug when you leave to put onto your appliance.  Then you cut the existing plug off of your brand new appliance and wire on your Uganda plug. Crazy! Krista was pretty nervous as I wired our brand new fridge. I was a bit offended. I am an electrical engineer after all. She had no faith in me. Or maybe it was the expensive fridge she was worried about. Anyway, it works fine – I wired it correctly.  It's kinda like us.  Even when we look good, shiny and clean, we have inherited and perpetuated a fundamental flaw - one that someone else has to fix for us to function properly at all.  Praise the Lord for the loving fix He brings fresh every day!   -Shauen

Friday
Jan092009

Furnishing a home from scratch

Homes in Kamapala are big or very small.  There doesn't seem to be much in-between.  Although we would certainly fit into a smaller home, like a condo/apartment or a townhouse, they apparently are not nearly as available and the ones I have seen are pricey.  We have a budget for furnishing our home and I know it is possible to do so within the budget as long as we use local craftsmen (which is what I would like to do anyway).  The intimidating part is walking into the large empty living room and the empty bedrooms.  We're starting from scratch.  We've been here about 5 days and I don't have a single chair in the house!  I can't change light bulbs!  We're working on it, of course, and there is a place a few miles down the road where there are lots of furniture makers lined up right next to each other.  So far we've bought a 4-post bed (the four posts are a practical feature for hanging your mosquito netting), and we've placed an order for a dining room table and chairs.  The prices are reasonable and the furniture available is very nice.  It is all hand-crafted and has a "rough" quality to it - just enough to identify that it was hand-made locally.  It's perfect.  Right now we're sleeping in our bed in our home but the rooms still feel cavernous and empty.  With all tile floors and no curtains there is quite an echo in an empty room which only magnifies the feeling.  Fortunately we have an excellent lead on curtains: hand-made, ready in two days for the entire house, simple, and most importantly, affordable.  It wouldn't be such a big deal except for the privacy they provide (I'll blog on that later).  Despite our mostly-empty house, it is home.  And it feels like home already.  How is it that God works in our heart this amazing comfort when it seems as though sometimes all we have is Him and each other?  What a blessing it is to walk hand-in-hand with Christ even from the other side of the world!      -Shauen

Thursday
Jan082009

Leaders of the LCMU and the work ahead

Today after we did some major shopping for household items like hand towels, an ironing board and iron, a washing machine, glasses, silverware, cleaning supplies, waste baskets, toilet paper, etc., we headed over to the Lutheran Media Ministry Uganda headquarters, which is also the de-facto headquarters of the Lutheran Church Mission Uganda.  President Noah had come into town on another matter and was able to meet us for the first time.  What a blessed man he is.  He greeted us warmly and made us feel very welcome.  Jane was also in town for the day and was able to meet us as well.  We had met many of the other workers at Lutheran Media Ministry our first full day here when we stopped by the office on our way into town.  It is humbling to have someone so excited about my presence.  I haven't even done anything yet!  It is my prayer that God will work through me to serve the LCMU in the best possible way.  The first item on our work agenda is in about 8 days when the LCMS World Mission Area Directors for Africa gather here in Kampala from all over Africa (called the Africa Management Team meeting).  Shortly after that will begin a class/curriculum for 24 men who are interested in pursing Seminary studies.  This two-year class which meets every other weekend is an LCMU pre-requisite to Seminary entrance.  Jake and I will likely play a large part in providing the instruction for this class.  What a joy - I am so excited and nervous.  First, though, I'd really like a desk and chair in my home office (my only office).  That's the task at hand for now. -Shauen

Thursday
Jan082009

Not Elecricity..... Water!

Based on guide books, we had expected the electricity to be provided on a rolling blackout basis, with power provided to half of Kampala on any given day.  That could well be the case for other parts of the city but for where we live, the power is fine – it’s on all the time as far as I can tell although Michelle (our co-worker who lives across the street) said she saw it go out for ½ an hour the other night. The unexpected concern we have is for water! Our water is shut off during the day – it usually comes on sometime during the night and then is shut off again before morning. To address this issue, our house has a huge water tank up above the roof – you can see them all over the city, big water tanks perched above most houses. So whenever the water is on, everyone who is getting water is filling their tanks and then when the water is off you’re using up your “reserve.” A pump kicks in when you’re using your tank to bring the water up to about the same pressure as city water. It’s all automatic so we don’t really know when the city water is on or off except when we turn on the kitchen sink cold water which is connected directly to the city supply. Every other faucet in the house including the kitchen sink hot water is fed by the tank.  So we can tell if the city water is on or not.  Our hot water is generated entirely by solar although we do have a booster hot water heater in the kitchen for if we run out of solar-heated water which we haven’t yet. The solar does get quite hot and stays hot all night in an insulated tank – easily hot enough for morning showers.  Our co-workers Jake and Michelle have a much larger household than we do, with two children as well as their housekeeper and her son.  They have run out of water more than once when the city water did not come on at night.  Now they are able to come across the street to our place and fill up some buckets if necessary from our tank.  Praise the Lord that even in the midst of scarce resources He finds a way for His abundant streams of water to flow.          -Shauen

Tuesday
Jan062009

You are welcome

The common greeting here when you are coming into someone’s home, office, or market stall is “You are welcome.” It sounds funny to us since no one said “Thank you.” The phrase makes perfect sense, of course. They are saying you are welcome to come into my place, welcome to be my guest, welcome to make yourself at home. It’s often repeated several times in those first couple minutes when you’ve arrived. And that is exactly how we have been welcomed to Uganda – with open arms, a wide smile, and an eager handshake.  We should have expected it, of course.  Christ has welcomed us all with arms held open on the cross.  It is certainly the case that His love holds together brothers and sisters in Christ - even across the oceans.  We have been wonderfully welcomed home.   When you arrive, we will say also to you, "You are welcome."  -Shauen

Monday
Jan052009

We have arrived!

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Friends, Supporters,and Family,

We have safely arrived in Kampala.  I'm writing from my supervisor's dining room, right across the street from our house.  Praise the Lord for safe travels and no lost luggage.  We'll be writing more as soon as we can. 

God bless you all!  -Shauen

Sunday
Jan042009

The Day After Tomorrow

The day after tomorrow we'll be in Uganda.  We leave tomorrow, Sunday, around noon from Sea-Tac airport.  But we arrive in Uganda on Monday night, Uganda time.  Right now I'm still trying to figure out what time it'll be here in the states.  Krista added a sweet widget on the right hand side of our Uganda page that tells what time it is in Uganda.  I think we'll arrive on Monday morning, U.S. time.

Yesterday we had an amazing afternoon.  We've had some difficulty establishing residency in Washington state because our permanent address is a post office box so all our mail has that address which (according to the nice people at the department of licensing) does not prove residency.  So we've already been turned away from getting our Washington State driver's licenses once.  Friday afternoon we were waiting for a package to be delivered that was coming by UPS direct to the house so it would have our physical address on it.  By 2:30pm it hadn't arrived.  This was our last business day before departure.  At 2:30pm. 

  1. We set out at 2:39pm from my parent's house for the roughly 30 minute drive to Tacoma, stopping along the way to pick up a year's supply of contact lenses.  What we really needed was them to write me a receipt with our physical address on it.  There was no line at the contact lens place.
  2. Our second stop was at the Voter Registration office in Tacoma which went without a hitch.  We didn't really need to register to vote so early before the next election but we did need to get a voter registration card (to prove residency).  Again, no line.
  3. Our third stop was downtown Tacoma to get our background checks for our work permits in Uganda.  We got there a few minutes before closing.  There was only one person in line ahead of us.
  4. Then back across town to the department of licensing.  We walked in and pulled number 340.  They were helping number 290-something when we arrived.  We were called up to the front about 2 minutes before closing time.  They were SO NICE!  They welcomed me "back" to Washington state and issued us licenses! 
  5. With new licenses in hand, then, we had to high-tail it across town again to get to the AAA office for our International Driving Permits.  Once again, we arrived minutes before closing and there was no line at all.

I'm completely amazed at what we got done in the span of three hours.  My Mom was an awesome chauffer providing door-to-door service and lots of emotional support.  God provided hardly any traffic, fast stop lights, and perfect timing with easy waiting lines.  And He somehow kept us calm (at least outwardly calm) throughout our quest which was good because it's not generally a good thing to be all anxious and nervous when applying for a license or background check. 

It'll be different in Uganda.  As my supervisor says, "If you get one thing done in a single day you're doing pretty good."  I feel like a cliff diver gathering myself one last time before the dive.  I'm in that moment of a long, slow blink where you know what's in front of you, you know what you're going to do, but you can't see over the edge just yet.  If it weren't for that amazing lifeguard in the sky (Psalm 121), I'd be scared to death. 

See you on the flip side!  

-Shauen

 

Friday
Jan022009

2 days and counting...

Well, it is Thursday night and in two days we will be boarding our flight to Uganda. I have no idea what life will be like next week at this time. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time. It feels like there are a million things to do, all of them equally important, and surely, if not accomplished, disaster will occur! Of course, this is only my stress and anxiety speaking. I am looking forward to arriving, settling in, and making Uganda my home. Of course before that can happen, we have to finish packing!! Two more suitcases to pack and two more days to go, I can't wait!  -Krista

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